KUCHING, May 31 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today told the Dayak community that its reliance on traditional farming methods has to change so that its farmers can benefit from commercial agricultural ventures.
“To be able to be a part of the agricultural and economic transformation, it is my fervent hope for the Dayak community to participate actively in the field of commerce and industry,” he said in his Gawai Dayak message.
“This is where they have to transform their traditional subsistence farming to modern farming through application of new technologies and digital marketing platforms.”
He said he strongly believes that Dayak farmers can see success with commercial farming through the support of good connectivity and marketing strategy.
The chief minister said the Dayak community should take advantage of their land which can be used to produce food for export.
“A lot of Dayak smallholders have succeeded in oil palm and pepper farming and with the right advice and secured markets, I don’t see any reason why they cannot do well in food production such as planting of vegetables and fruits,” he said, adding that they can play an important role in helping Sarawak to be a net exporter of food in the future.
The chief minister said the state Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government is determined to ensure that rural areas are well-connected and well-served with facilities and amenities.
“We now have more money from the imposition of 5 per cent on oil and gas products for export and the funds will be channelled back to our people in the forms of infrastructure facilities,” he said.
Abang Johari also urged the Dayaks and other communities in Sarawak to have more self-belief in what they can do for the state, instead of trusting outsiders who may not have their best interests at heart.
“Not all may agree with what I say here but at the end of the day, Sarawakians are left to fend for themselves,” he said.
The chief minister said unity has been the pillar of the state’s strength in the last 56 years since the formation of Malaysia.
“Much has been achieved because of our ability to be a cohesive society but much more needs to be done to put Sarawak on equal footing, if not above the other already developed states,” he added.