KUCHING: Empurau fries have been released to main rivers in Betong as attempts are now made to breed the highly-priced freshwater fish there.
Widely regarded as ‘the swimming goldmine’, the empurau is usually associated with the Rajang River which flows through Kapit and Belaga.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu revealed on Saturday that 2,000 empurau fries were released in Batang Paku and 3,000 in Batang Layar recently to provide the people there with a high revenue venture, as according to him the fish could fetch a price of nearly RM800 per kilogramme in Kuala Lumpur and RM1,000 per kilogramme in China.
“This is to diversify the economy of the people there. The fish will not only be a good source of protein as it can provide good income for them,” he said at the Saribas Social and Recreational Club (SSRC) annual dinner at Civic Centre here.
More than 1,000 people comprising mainly Saribas Ibans living in Kuching attended the dinner. Also present was Natural Resource and Environment Minister and Betong MP Dato Sri Douglas Uggah.
Jabu, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture Minister and Layar assemblyman, hoped the rural farmers would benefit greatly from the revival of 18 agriculture stations and setting up of two new ones as the stations will impart new ideas and methods to help them improve their income.
He also referred to an announcement he made last month of approved plans to set up a metro-polytechnic in Betong, saying this would bring in more good things to the division.
According to him, the metro-polytechnic, which offers diploma-level courses, will enable more local youths to pursue skills training as well as uplift the status of Betong.
On another matter, he hoped SSRC would consider organising the annual dinner at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) by 2013.
Although it would mean more funds needed to be raised to foot the expenditure, he said he would give his support to make this a reality.
“We should aim for higher class and bigger venue,” he said, after which he pledged RM15,000 to the club.
Jabu also presented ‘High Achiever Award’ incentives to 20 children of members who excelled in UPSR, PMR and SPM examinations.
Representatives of Saribas communities in Demak Laut, Greenwood/ Landeh, Batu Kawah, Matang, Tabuan Jaya, Samarahan and BDC also performed during the dinner themed ‘Malam Begempuru’.