KUCHING: Forest Department should consider working with Malaysian embassies and high commissioners in foreign countries to promote and market local non-timber forest products (NTFP) overseas.
In making the suggestion, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh said such collaboration is important for NTFP to penetrate overseas market.
Len cited his visit to Finland last year, where the Malaysia embassy in Helsinki gave beads produced in Serian as souvenir to foreign visitors to the office, which in a way helped to promote the product.
“To promote and market our local NTFP overseas, I think it will be useful if the Forest Department can extend collaboration with the Malaysian embassies and high commissioners overseas because by doing so, the local products derived from non-timber can go globally,” Len said at the closing of NTFP Carnival 2019 at Kuching Waterfront here yesterday.
Len pointed out that the 4th edition of NTFP, which started from Aug 14 and was participated by Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Cambodia and Laos, is a good platform for the department to extend collaboration with foreign countries.
“The participation from both local and international agencies can help to intensify and expand the NTFP markets to higher level and at the same time will be able to promote Sarawak NTFP to the world, besides being an opportunity to learn from other countries on diversity and creativity in producing NTFP,” he elaborated.
Len also touched on the importance of sustainability of non-timber products like rattan and bamboo by growing them in plantations.
Equally important are research and development (R&D) for the NTFP, he pointed out, adding that there was still plenty of room to improve the quality of products.
Len noted that Forest Department had taken steps by organising the NTFP carnival since 2016, participated by communities from rural areas all over the state to give them opportunity to promote and sell their products, widen network and marketing and generate income.
“The state government is emphasising on rural development to strengthen the socio-economic status of the people, including smallholders and commodity entrepreneurs,” he said.
Len also proposed that future NTFP carnivals include workshop for participants to enhance efficiency in assisting entrepreneurs in the production of non-timber products.
He also said he would like to see the inclusion of local non-timber products in future Sarawak-Singapore business forum and expo.
“I believe that our rich non-timber resources and products also have a great potential to be showcased in this expo and other international exhibitions as well in the future,” he pointed out.
Len also said that the NTFP Carnival 2019 managed to generate total sales of RM300,000, from RM91,860 last year.
The NTFP Carnival 2019 was held in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Forest Department.
Present were Forest director Hamden Mohamad and deputy director Jack Liam.