KUCHING: Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said Sarikei and Bintangor should be converted into ‘green basket’ areas and have their fruits exported overseas, including to India.
Opening the inaugural BioBorneo 2012 here yesterday, the chief minister said Sarikei and Bintangor were a perfect fit for the tropical fruit business because the people were used to growing fruits since time immemorial.
“Sarikei and Bintangor, where people are used to growing fruits, should be converted into green basket areas. Maybe (the fruits) can be transported to Sibu Airport for export to India or other countries where fruits are in demand.
“We can use biotechnology to improve the agriculture and have the fruits processed properly, from the health point of view. This export business will augur well for the two areas in particular and the state in general.”
To make this dream come true, Taib said assistance from the federal government would be needed because it involved carrying out a wide range of research in biotechnology.
He recalled having suggested to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation once to engage professionals to draw up a detailed plan to tap the global market.
“I recommended to ministry last time… to have a patent lawyer, probably the best you can get, in order to chart out a roadmap to enter the international market.
“Believe me, some international companies are very difficult clients to deal with.”
Taib said the state actually possessed a big potential for agriculture and aquaculture development.
Citing the Rajang Delta as an example, he said the area used to be a nightmare to develop due to its soft soil, but it was later found to be the best place to rear fish and seafood in a large scale, he pointed out.
“So, strategies have got to be worked out so that we can serve the world market. Plan our own production and capacity according to the market’s demand and supply.”
Taib admitted that the state faced difficulties in building the “correct manpower” to fully tap the vast potential it possessed.
“I know that we have people at the top level but the middle level is suffering quite a shortage (of good people) at the moment. We have to train people all the way, not only as research scientists but also laboratory assistants.
“To achieve a good complement of staff to support our biotechnology industry, we need a lot of co-operation … from universities and researchers.”
Among those present were Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Fadillah Yusof and State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani.