Sarawak banks on durian, pineapples, bananas, coconuts as new cash crops

Uggah said Sarawak successfully exported about 100 metric tonnes of durian products in paste and pulp forms. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Uggah said Sarawak successfully exported about 100 metric tonnes of durian products in paste and pulp forms. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, May 9 — The state Ministry Of Agriculture, Native Land And Regional Development is focusing on durian, pineapple, banana and coconut as the chosen fruit crops to help meet Sarawak’s goal of becoming a net food exporter by 2030, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said today.

The minister said the state government will work with the private sector to make these crops the foundation for a more progressive, modern and competitive agriculture industry.

“I believe that if we can continue to progress in this manner, we will be able to achieve our twin goals of raising the income of the farmers and becoming the net food exporter,” he said in his ministerial winding up debate in the Sarawak State Assembly here.

Uggah, who is also the deputy chief minister, said Sarawak successfully exported about 100 metric tonnes of durian products in paste and pulp forms through two anchor companies operating from Serian and Betong during the last durian season, surpassing the marketing target of 60 metric tonnes.

“Most of the durian fruits were collected from Betong, Serian, Bau and Padawan areas. For this year, the two anchor companies have indicated that they will be able to export more than 200 metric tonnes of durian paste,” he said.

He said his ministry will also intensify its effort to organise the supply and delivery of fresh fruits to the two anchor companies.

“In this regard, my ministry will expedite the construction of new collection centres at strategic locations and to engage the Area Farmer’s Organisations (AFOs) to act as the collectors of durian fruits from smallholders for delivery to the anchor companies,” he said.

He said the state government has allocated RM8 million this year for durian rehabilitation programmes in order to increase quality and output of fruits.

On pineapples, he said these were in good demand worldwide, whether as fresh fruits or processed and value-added products, especially from China and the Middle East.

He said his ministry will promote the anchor-out grower business model that involves the participation of the private sector as the anchor firm and smallholders as the primary producer for the pineapple industry.

He said the Department of Agriculture Sarawak has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a private company in Miri to develop pineapple industry in Uma Akeh, Long Lama in Baram.

“The project involves 40 smallholders as the out growers while the anchor company is to provide technical know-how and to purchase output from the out growers.

“This collaborative project will supply fresh pineapple to Brunei Darussalam market which the company estimates can absorb 40 metric tonnes per month,” he said.

He said his ministry through the Department of Agriculture Sarawak has allocated RM2.5 million this year for pineapple planting.

As for bananas, Uggah said there is high demand for banana chip products from the peninsula and export markets, especially in China.

“Currently, there is a company operating in Samarahan Division which is involved in the production and marketing of banana chips,” he said, adding that in 2018, the company was able to produce and market about 100 metric tonnes of banana chips.

He said the ministry, through the Department of Agriculture Sarawak, has assisted 34 farmers in the planting of banana to supply fresh banana to the company.

Uggah said coconut is another commodity crop with high potential and has created successful agropreneurs.

“For instance, one company based in Samarahan Division has exported about 410,000 coconuts to Peninsular Malaysia in 2016 and 1.2 million nuts in 2018,” he said.

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