MIRI: Sarawak needs to strive for ample food supply for its population which currently depends too much on imported food.
MP Sibuti Lukanisman Awang Sauni said one of measures to be taken is to stop clearing large swathes of land for oil palm plantations.
“I have made known my views in parliament that Sarawak and other states should stop the approval of land for oil palm plantations. We have to stop clearing forest and land solely for oil palm plantations,” he said at the soft launch of JomTani, an urban farm project initiated by local graduates, at Kampung Pulau Melayu here, yesterday.
Piasau and Kabong assemblymen Datuk Sebastian Ting and Mohd Che Kadir (and wife Meryani Yassin) respectively, and chief executive officer of JomTani Sdn Bhd, Saravana Kumar Munusamy, and community leaders were also present at the function.
Lukanisman said that more land should instead be opened up for food production using new technology that would bring maximum returns.
He also urged the federal government to endorse the Sarawak government’s commitment of embracing digital economy such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), and the Internet of Things (IOT).
As for his Sibuti constituency, he said concerted efforts are being taken to introduce the new model of economy and farming. Among the projects implemented there were chilli fertigation method, pineapple cultivation, planting pandan coconut on 70 acres of land, and the distribution of three to five musang king durian seedlings to every family.
Hopefully, after three years, the durian project would bring additional income of not less than RM500 for each durian season to each family.
On JomTani, he was it augured well with the Sarawak government’s digitial economy drive to produce crops for sale, and stabilise the prices of vegetables in Sarawak.
“It also consolidates Miri City’s position as an anchor model of agriculture project start-up in Sarawak.”
He added that Miri could not depend too much on the tourism industry, with a non-international airport and lacking in public transportation for tourists to explore the city and its places of interest.
He urged JomTani entrepreneurs to also involve students and parents from Kampung Pulau Melayu, besides extending their expertise to the rural farmers and traders in Baram, Lapok, Tinjar and Sibuti.
Mohd Che Kadir, who also spoke, said he was optimistic that JomTani entrepreneurs could become role models for youths in the state to start careers in farming, which could be very lucrative.
“The market for agriculture produce is always there and the RM4.4 billion food import for Sarawak in 2016 is testimony of the great potentials in agriculture,” he said.
Kumar also spoke. He said for a start the one-acre urban farm project was meant to support and empower the growth and other aspiring agropreneurs through their three main educational modules.
“They are fertigation, hydroponics and soil-based crops, besides crops such as chilli, ginger, terung asam and a variety of leafy vegetable,” he said, adding that their first harvest is expected in three to four months’ time.