DALAT, March 30 — The state Ministry of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development will set up a board to regulate, enhance and strengthen the development of the sago industry in Sarawak.
“The proposed Sarawak Sago Board is a good idea. We will discuss its formation next week,” Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said in a meeting with sago smallholders from here at the Sungai Talau Research Centre, today.
“The government acknowledges the increasingly important contribution by sago to the economy,” he said, adding the state exported RM86.8million worth of the commodity in 2017, and an increase from RM62.8 million in 2010.
Uggah, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, said the state government is projecting the export value of sago to reach RM100 million by 2030.
He urged the research centre to do more researches on sago like coming up with new by-products and shortening its maturity period from the current 10 to three years.
He said a special task force to look after the development of the industry would meet in Kuching next week.
He said he will co-chair the meeting with Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Sri Fatimah Abdullah, who is also the State Assemblyman for Dalat.
“We will study the various grievances of the smallholders and the industry with a view to resolving them,” he said.
He said one of the issues to be looked into is how to transport the harvested sago trunk to mills in the absence of roads or canals.
Uggah also announced an allocation of RM11 million to develop the industry this year.
Mukah is Sarawak’s largest producer of sago, where 40,642 hectares had been planted out of the state-wide total area of 46,768 hectares.
Meanwhile, Uggah advised the smallholders to diversify their economic activities so that they could earn more income.
He suggested that they plant crops like pineapple and banana, which now enjoy good demand outside Sarawak.
On marketing, he said they could turn to their farmer’s association for assistance which could sell them to the ministry’s anchor companies.
He added he had recently told the Agriculture Department to come up with products utilising local fruit, which would be in great abundance once their fruiting season arrive.
This way, the farmers could earn income by collecting and selling these fruits instead of leaving them to the birds and bats.