KUCHING: The Sarawak government has approved a grant of RM6 million to develop and strengthen the buffalo rearing industry in Limbang Division.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas announced this yesterday when officiating at the 16th Babalung and Buffalo Racing Festival in Batu Danau, Limbang.
Uggah, who is the Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, represented Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
“Limbang Division has always been traditionally the state’s main producer of buffalo. In the year 2000, there were more 12,000 head of buffalo in Limbang. Now the number has dropped to about 5,500 head,” he said.
“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari wants the population to increase. We will do this stage by stage.”
Uggah said this would begin with the creation of grazing grounds within the next two years and repairing the fences of community paddocks, followed by bringing in breeding stock and introducing modern technology to ensure a better birth rate.
“I was in Darwin, Australia early this year to look at potential breeding stock among others. I was very impressed with what I saw … some of the male buffaloes there were 800kg in weight compared to our biggest at 350kg.
“We will bring some to the state so that we can produce these huge buffaloes,” he said.
Uggah said buffaloes have always been synonymous with the livelihood, culture, and traditions of the Bisaya in Limbang Division and the Orang Ulu in Bario.
“Under our rural transformation programme for the Northern Region Development Agency, it is one of our objectives for the buffalo rearing sector to be a major economic activity in the area,” he said.
Uggah also called on the people to pursue modern methods for vegetable and fruit farming and listed durian, pineapple, banana, maize, and coffee as crops with great potential.
“We plan to set up a collecting, processing, and packaging centre (CPPC) to buy these products from farmers. There must be the volume for this to work,” he added.
On the durian tree maintenance programme for Limbang, Uggah said the government has approved an additional RM1 million for Limbang and Lawas districts at the request of Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang.
He said besides the Musang King variety, some local species of durian also had great potential for export.
He also announced an RM200,000 grant from Abang Johari and RM30,000 from his allocation for the organiser of the annual festival.
Sarawak Bisaya Association president Antonio Kathi Galis said the Babalung festival is held after the harvest season.
He said the buffalo race was the highlight of the 10-day celebration, which also featured sports and cultural activities.
Among those present were Limbang member of parliament Hasbi Habibollah, Lawas member of parliament Datuk Henry Sum Agong, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, and Sarawak Veterinary Services Department director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud.