KUCHING, Nov 22 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said he has accepted a request from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for Sarawak to be a producer of animal feed.
He said the prime minister wants Malaysia to reduce its reliance on imported animal feed, worth RM60 billion a year.
“Dr Mahathir wants Sarawak and Sabah to produce animal feed for the whole country,” Abang Johari said at the opening of the Sarawak Agrofest 2019 in Petra Jaya, near here.
“I told the prime minister that we can try to produce the animal feed, but at the same time, the federal government must give us allocation,” he said, adding that Dr Mahathir made the request when the two met in Putrajaya last Monday.
Abang Johari said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government also agrees to empower the state government to issue deep-sea fishing licences to Sarawak’s fishermen.
He said Dr Mahathir wants the state to produce fish-based food products and animal feed, using catch from the South China Sea.
“I told the prime minister that Sarawak, though not part of Pakatan, will give priority to the agriculture industry because we have plenty of land, the market is there and the climate is suitable for agriculture,” he said.
The chief minister also asked owners of native customary rights land to venture into modern agriculture to improve their income.
He said the state government is targeting for the state to be a net exporter of food and products by the year 2030, and in the process, strengthen its food security.
He added Sarawak’s food import was valued at RM4.6 billion, but its food export was less than RM1 billion.
He said this gives a food trade deficit of RM3.6 billion, with the biggest import items being beverages and spices (RM1.05 billion), followed by meat and dairy products (RM606 million) and fruit and vegetables (RM548 million).