KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has about two million hectares of land suitable for agriculture but half of it is idle, according to a senior research fellow from Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Zainal Ajamain of the university’s Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System, said the one million hectares, largely in rural areas, had been left idle due to the rural-urban migration.
“Sabah has so much potential in becoming a food production centre but it seems half of its population is in the city,” Zainal said at a seminar entitled ‘Sabah at a Crossroad: Repositioning for Growth and Prosperity’ yesterday.
“There is no one left to develop the land for agriculture because most of the people have migrated to urban areas in search of employment,” he said.
Zainal said there was a need for Sabah to position itself as a food production centre as most states in the country were heading towards industrialisation.
Sabah, he said, was still far behind in becoming an industrialised state compared to other states and should shift away from it, specifically export-oriented industrialisation.
According to Zainal, Sabah is exporting 13 per cent of goods while 58 per cent of the goods it needed are brought in.
“Sabah has always been planned as agriculture-based rather than an industrial-based economy. It is best that Sabah return to agriculture, specifically commercial agriculture,” he said.
Besides agriculture, Sabah should focus on the services sector, especially tourism, and move towards information and communications technology (ICT), he added. — Bernama