KUCHING: There is a need to develop the state’s coconut industry to meet domestic and export market demands in terms of quantity and quality, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah.
According to him, the state currently has around 12,000 hectares of planted area for coconuts operated mainly by smallholders.
“Our current productivity is 3,000 coconuts per hectare per year, which is much lower than Peninsular Malaysia at 6,561 coconuts per hectare per year, and our self-sufficiency level (SSL) is at 73 per cent.
“But I believe that we can aim towards achieving 100,000 hectares of planted area for coconuts in Sarawak through initiatives that gear towards the development of our coconut industry,” he said yesterday.
Uggah had earlier witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Sarawak government – represented by the Department of Agriculture (DoA) Sarawak – and Jaya Tiasa Holdings Berhad and Carus Eco Plants Sdn Bhd at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here yesterday.
Uggah, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, stressed that the government is committed to enhancing the development of the state’s coconut industry as part of efforts to become a net exporter of food by 2030.
He said one of the initiatives to achieve this goal is through close collaboration with private sectors that have the technology, management expertise, capital and ready-access markets both at the domestic and global arena.
“The private sector plays a very important role and we need the private sector’s investment injection into the state economy through the agriculture sector.
“With the signing of the MoU, Jaya Tiasa and Carus will have different focus areas where Jaya Tiasa’s long-term development plan is to focus on planting Matag coconut on a large scale to produce old coconuts to be processed mainly for ‘santan’ (coconut milk) and virgin coconut oil.
“Carus will focus on planting pandan/fragrant coconuts to produce fresh coconuts which will be processed and packed for markets,” said Uggah, adding that the objective of the MoU is to promote and enhance cooperation between the parties in the development of the coconut industry in Sarawak along the whole supply and value chain, for mutual benefit and interest of both parties.
He explained that among the scope of the MoU includes supply of quality coconuts for the coconut industry; promotion and marketing of coconuts for domestic and export markets; research and development in the coconut production and downstream processing; and transfer and exchange of knowledge and innovative technology on coconut industry along the supply chain.
“Following the MoU, the DoA will further discuss with both companies to deliberate, plan and implement coconut programmes which will focus on involving and assisting the smallholders throughout the state especially in terms of producing quality coconut and marketing.
“I am also setting a timeline of one month for them to complete their discussion, after which the agreement must be signed,” said Uggah.
He also pointed out that the Sarawak government is also allocating RM4 million this year to develop the coconut industry while the federal government is giving RM7 million.
“We (Sarawak government) are also thinking of adding another RM9 million to make it RM20 million for the development of Sarawak’s coconut industry.”
Later, Uggah witnessed the signing of the Mou which saw DoA Sarawak acting director Dr Alvin Chai Lian Kuet sign on behalf of the government while Jaya Tiasa was represented by chief executive officer Dato Wong Sie Young, and Carus by chairman and director Jeremy Sim Hui Yii.
Also present were Assistant Minister of Native Land Development Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn and DoA Sarawak deputy director Ngab Dollah Salam.