KUCHING: A sum of RM17.7 million has been set aside under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) for a programme to make Limbang and Lawas as the main buffalo breeding and production areas in Sarawak.
Announcing this was Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who also said special aid would be given to existing farmers under the programme.
“They would be taught modern farm management techniques and the application of artificial insemination as an option to induce more births,” he said yesterday.
Uggah, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, earlier presented a grant of RM1.2 million to help 484 breeders repair or upgrade the fencing of their 34 communal farms in Limbang.
The function at the Kampung Bidang hall was also attended by Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman lsmail, Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang and the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, Datu Ik Pahon Joyik.
Also present were the Veterinary Services Department Sarawak director Dr Adrian Susin and a political secretary to the chief minister Dr Richard Rapu.
Uggah said Limbang and Lawas have big potential as they are also a traditional buffalo breeding region in Sarawak.
“In 2000, the region was recorded to have 12,000 head of buffaloes. But now, the population has declined to about 5,500,” he said.
He explained this decline was caused by the absence of proper farm management and broken-down fencing at the paddocks, which had caused the animals to wander away.
“Then between 2010 and 2017, record had shown that about 7,805 head (of buffaloes) costing more than RM35 million were sold without any matching new birth for replacement.
“Thus, our immediate focus now is to bring back the number from the 5,500 to 11,000 by 2025. If we could do this, it would bring more incomes again for the breeders.
“On a broader picture, we would be on our way to achieve self-sufficiency level for the meat,” he said.
Uggah also said there was no issue with the market demand as there is constant and big demand from Brunei.
“As a matter of fact, there is also the big local demand especially during the Hari Raya Korban (Aidiladha),” he said.
He expressed his confidence that if the farmers themselves were just as committed plus the aid, management courses and the technological input from the government, the target of 11,000 buffaloes could be met.
“Then we can have the Limbang Buffalo Valley here where we concentrate to reorganise and transform the industry. We will bring in more new stocks or obtain supply of semen for artificial insemination to increase the population,” he said, adding that it would also feature a modern abattoir.
In Limbang, Uggah also paid a visit to a buffalo entrepreneur programme farm owned by Henry Chuan Teck at Kampung Kuala Awang. Henry is also a participant of the ‘Buffalo Pawah’ programme of the Agriculture Department.
He currently has 62 head of buffalo on his 32-hectare farm and earns an income of between RM26,000 and RM45,000 from his yearly sales.
Uggah also said this farm would be a pilot project on better farm management.