Ministry restores Sabah fishermen’s houses


The entourage from MAFI looking at the bird’s nests collected from a swiftlet’s nest operators at the collection

BELURAN (Oct 13): The Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry (MAFI) has allocated RM6.43 million to restore the houses of fishermen and construct new ones for them nationwide under the Special Fishermen Housing project this year.

Out of the total allocation, RM3.45 million is for Sabah to restore the fishermen’s houses.

In a recent walkabout by MAFI minister, Datuk Dr Ronald Kiandee at Kg Kolapis, Beluran he visited several houses of participants of the Special Fishermen Housing project.

These were part of the 200 fishermen’s houses that were restored in the area that is under the responsibility of Malaysia Fisheries Development Authority or LKIM.

The Special Fishermen Housing project implemented by LKIM is to help fishermen with low earnings to restore their houses and to build new ones.

The programme is also geared towards raising the wellbeing of the fishermen community, particularly those who are less able.

And in addition to the Special Fishermen Housing Project, MAFI through LKIM also allocated more than RM150 million this year to aid and provide incentives to the fishermen community nationwide which consists of the monthly RM300 living cost allowance for fishermen, diesel and petrol fuel subsidy, fishermen fund, fishermen disaster fund and welfare, cash crop project, fishermen group economic project assistance and Fishermen Food Basket programme.

In 2021, LKIM also channeled RM500,000 funding to purchase the Beluran Area Fishermen Association’s (PNK) office building and RM300,000 for the construction of an ice factory at Kg Keramat, Beluran.

The ice factory is expected to benefit 2,783 fishermen at the area and will function as a storage for fishermen’s catch and for marketing.

The Beluran PNK also received an allocation of RM100,000 under the special fund for area fishermen associations which is among the initiatives under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN) to sell ice.

At the same time, 50 fishermen in Beluran also received one-off aid and incentive under the Cash Crop project involving an allocation of RM100,000.

LKIM also implemented the Income Increment Development Plan programme for fishermen under the B40 group through the Cash Crop project aimed at giving side income to the fishermen through the agriculture input that involves RM4 million allocation and targeting 3,006 fishermen.

During his visit to Kg Kolapis, Dr Ronald also presented food baskets to 100 members of the Beluran PNK.

These were part of MAFI’s Prihatin contribution through LKIM and the Area Fishermen Associations to reduce the fishermen’s burden due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the same time, Dr Ronald also handed over the Fisheries Department’s fishermen registration card to two fishermen at Pulau Jambongan Beluran which has a total of 106 recipients; as well as fisheries operators card to two operators who are among the 265 recipients in Beluran.

LKIM also vows to continue its role as a government agency entrusted to improve the socioeconomic standing of fishermen and develop the nation’s fisheries businesses and ensure the nation’s fisheries supply is always enough,including during the National Recovery Plan.

Also present during the walkabout were MAFI Deputy Chief Secretary (Development), Datuk Badrul Hisham Mohd, LKIM Director General Yusoff Othman, Sabah LKIM Director Sundralingam A/L Nagaiah and Beluran PNK chairman Uting Rahmat.

The team from MAFI also visited the collection centre of swiftlet’s nests, also in Beluran last Friday.

Datuk Ronald Kiandee speaks to the owner of the house constructed under the special fishermen housing project, Asmin Bin Dullah. He is accompanied by MAFI Deputy Chief Secretary (Development), Datuk Badrul Hisham Mohd (left), LKIM Director General Yusoff Othman (second from left) and Sabah LKIM Director Sundralingam A/L Nagaiah (centre).

Beluran Farmers’ Association General Manager, Sumarang Chunbung said bird’s nest processing will also be carried out at the centre once they have received the machines.

He said that they hope to receive the machinery this month so that they can begin processing activities.

He added that Beluran has the greatest number of swiftlets’ houses with 850 registered with the association and involving a production of 5,000 kilogrammes per year.

“Altogether, there are 1,180 swiftlet houses in Sabah and the total production is 8,150 kilogrammes of nests per year,” he said when briefing a group from the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry (MAFI) at the centre recently. Also present during the briefing was MAFI’s Business Development and Investment
Division Secretary, Khalid Ibrahim.

Sumarang also explained that there are 400 swiftlet house operators in Beluran and the association purchases their nests production.

He added that the centre plans to carry out downstream processing of bird’s nests for export and for local industries as well as promote local and foreign tourism based on swiftlet agrotourism.

At the same time, the association also plans to train and produce 100 new swiftlet’s nest farmers.

The Beluran district has also been selected to carry out the pioneer project for the planting of MD2 pineapples.

The project is being undertaken at Kampung Rungus Baru, also in Beluran.

One of the pioneers in MD2 pineapple farming at Kampung Rungus Baru, Aneh Jamri.

One of the farmers, Aneh Jamri, said that she has planted 4,500 MD2 pineapples on a four-acre land since last year.

“Only 2,000 were successful. Basically, it is due to care, the topography, and the type of soil…further study must be made to see how to make them grow well,” she said.

Beluran and Telupid district agriculture officer Ahmad Kandung explained that there are no tilling machinery in Beluran and stated the importance of tilling the soil for the planting of the pineapples and requested for machineries from MAFI.

He also said that the other challenges facing the farmers in the farming of pineapples in Beluran was because the area has clay soil and the farmers themselves do not have the hormone technology.

Meanwhile, MAFI Deputy Chief Secretary (Development) Datuk Badrul Hisham Mohd in a session discussing the Agriculture Development Plan for Beluran (2021-2025) at a hotel said that the objective of the visit was to raise awareness on MAFI’s role to provide opportunities to the communities that provide immediate effects to the people.

“The people of Sabah are fortunate to have the most important ministry,” he added.

He reminded that many are not aware of the importance of food security and stated that Singapore is better than Malaysia in that aspect.

“Singapore is one of the top 10 countries in terms of food security…they invest everywhere whereas Malaysia lives in enjoyment. (But) One day when people no longer want to deal with us, then we know the importance of food,” he warned.

Badrul described the MAFI minister from Sabah as a forward thinker in food security and said that it is under Dr Ronald that the country has placed food security as a national agenda.

“The people of Sabah are very lucky to lead MAFI,” he reiterated.

Badrul also said that Sabah is still very dependent on the outside for her rice supply, adding that Sabah herself produces only 30 percent of her rice needs.

“The rest we still import,” he said.

He added that there are still a lot of opportunities to commercialise agro-food agriculture in Sabah and one of the aims of the visit to Beluran was to find MAFI families in the district who can be focused on to grow as an agriculture model and subsequently, spread the model to other districts.