MIRI: The integrated highland agriculture station in Ulu Baram and the surrounding developments are meant to turn this region into a highland economic powerhouse that rivals that of Kundasang in Sabah or Cameron Highlands in Pahang.
Deputy Chief Minister cum Rural Development Minister Datuk Patinggi Alfred Jabu Numpang is optimistic it could be achieved with preliminary results expected in the next five years.
He said this during a press conference at Miri Airport before flying to the Penan village of Long Daloh to hand over RM 1.4 million worth of roofing materials to 300 families.
“Now it may take 18 to 20 hours to drive from Miri to Long Beruang and Long Peluan, but it can be slashed to six or seven hours,” he said.
This hub which is about 350 km from Miri has been earmarked to be a vibrant rural growth node.
The 1,500-acre integrated highland agriculture station is slated to be a product collection centre with chilling and packaging facilities for the Long Banga, Long Beruang and Long Peluan area.
“The products could be graded and packaged here before being sent to markets in Miri and beyond,” he said.
Bario, 550 km from Miri, will also open up for the development of temperate crops and products similar to those found in Cameron Highlands in Pahang or Kundasang region in Sabah.
Jabu said this ambitious plan would see Penan handicrafts made from local rattan and other raw materials, production of temperate vegetables and flowers, rubber smallholdings and other economic activities.
The infrastructure development includes federal allocation of RM64 million to improve logging roads and the construction of four bridges.
The upcoming economic activities include Salcra-driven Penan rubber smallholdings at Long Beruang, expected to be ready for tapping in three years, augmented with a rubber seedling nursery.
The 76 Penan families were allocated 10 acres each which translate to an average monthly income of RM1,500 from barely RM200 at present.
Jabu said this would lift families above the poverty line and a strategic move on poverty eradication in rural Sarawak.
On roofing assistance for Long Daloh, he thanked supplier Pansar for topping up the government allocation of RM1 million to about RM1.4 million in materials as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.
Present at the function were Public Utilities Assistant Minister Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Deputy State Secretary Datuk Ose Murang, Senator Lihan Jok, Telang Usan Assemblyman Temengong Datuk Hasan Sui and others.