Study agriculture expansion of highlands

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Jabu (third left) places terung asam into an extraction machine to launch the conference. He is flanked by Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Farmer’s Organisation) Datuk Sylvester Entri Muran (left) and Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Research and Marketing) Datuk Mong Dagang.

Jabu (third left) places terung asam into an extraction machine to launch the conference. He is flanked by Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Farmer’s Organisation) Datuk Sylvester Entri Muran (left) and Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Research and Marketing) Datuk Mong Dagang.

KUCHING: More researchers, experts and scientists are needed to carry out elaborate studies on various aspects of agriculture and land management for agriculture expansion in the highlands of Sarawak.

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang said this is necessary to plant various temperate vegetables and fruits on the 1,500 acres of land in Upper Baram, which has a similar altitude to Cameron Highlands in Pahang and Kundasang in Sabah.

“We saw potential to grow and produce cool climate vegetables and fruits in the area. But now we have to do studies of the soil for erosion, flooding and other problems before determining the potential for agriculture development,” he said yesterday during the Department of Agriculture’s Research Officers’ Conference 2015.

He pointed out that Cameron Highlands and Kundasang, both affected by natural disasters recently, faced challenges in sustaining crop production.

“Plans are in place to cultivate the new area, which has been approved by the government, within seven to 10 years so that Sarawak can supply temperate crops to Peninsular Malaysia, Brunei and the local populace,” he said.

“But we need researchers to explore the new area including crop scientists, experts in temperate vegetables as well as researchers in green crops and herbs.”

Jabu said researchers were currently interested in stingless bees known locally as Kelulut for honey production.

The Research Division has initiated a programme focussing on technology to trap, transfer and divide Kelulut colonies to increase their population in order to support the new industry.