Sunday, May 22

Land policy for food production needed – Masidi


KOTA KINABALU: The state government needs to look at its land policy for food production, said Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

He said this was imperative to ensure the state was not dependent on others to supply its food needs in the future.

“About 75 percent of our rice is imported. We need to address this, we need to look at our land policy for food production. We need food for ourselves,” Masidi said, adding that this was his personal opinion.

He added that members of the government also seemed to feel the need to look at the land policy and feel that Sabah had probably reached the limit for oil palm.

“There is a need to sit with the planters to look at other crops such as food crops,” he said at the book launch of the ‘Orang-utan: The Natural History of an Endangered Ape’, authored by Elizabeth L. Bennett and photography by Cede Prudente. The book was published by the Natural History Publications (Borneo).

Masidi also spoke of the conservation efforts undertaken in Sabah, stating that it was the best in the country.

“Fifteen years ago we realised that we have enough (of) logging. We caused misery to our iconic animals,” he said.

The state has since decided to keep between 56 and 58 percent of its area under forest cover and is aiming for 30 percent as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs), he said.

“We are now at 25 percent in TPAs,” he said.

He added that they were expecting to achieve the target by or before 2025.

Additionally, a total of 700,000 hectares of forests are being planted to avoid cutting natural forests, he said.

And with regard to the orang-utans, Masidi said the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre had become a popular tourism attraction for Sabah.

He explained that the primary objective of setting up the centre was not for tourism but rather to rehabilitate orang-utans that were displaced in the past.

“It accidentally became a tourist attraction. It is not a zoo but a rehab centre. Some tour operators feel short changed because they did not see orang-utans during feeding time. But this is a good sign. It means that the (rehabilitation) programme has been successful,” said Masidi.

Also present at the event was publisher Datuk C.L. Chan.