Wednesday, October 5

Ministry earmarks Bintulu’s Batu 11 for agricultural food production

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Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom

BINTULU (Sept 23): The Ministry of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development (MIFCORD) is focusing on agricultural food production at Taman Pertanian Batu 11, Jalan Bintulu-Miri.

Its minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said the focus is currently on marking land plots.

“The most suitable to be developed is Batu 11 with an area of ​​approximately 1,000 acres, but there are 200 to 300 acres of land in that area being used by other parties without permission which requires us to deal with it according to the law,” he said in a press conference here yesterday.

As agricultural parks already exist in Sarawak, there are various methods to develop agricultural parks and permanent food production parks with assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry.

He stated that Batu 11 Agricultural Park will also be a research centre for rubber, bamboo, coconut, and musang king durian.

“That’s in a small area, but we need the results of studies to commercialise in hope that young people would learn to use new technology.”

Dr Rundi noted the annual type coconut species produces more fruits than pandan type, or change to other crops with faster and easier yields like watermelons, chilies or vegetables of high quality and high value using hydroponics, greenhouse and other methods.

“In the Netherlands, I saw entrepreneurs making greenhouses for organic crops that are quite good but maybe not suitable in our country.

“That’s why we need this research centre to study suitability of crops for each place,” he explained.

Dr Rundi shared that a visit to Rampangi in Kuching to see `rock and golden melons’, sour eggplant showed chili were more prominently grown.

“Looking at the market for fresh chilies, it would not give good profit unless processed for downstream products,” he said, adding that a lot of downstream products could be made from sour eggplants like those made by women in Miri.

Dr Rundi stated that his ministry would try to hold Agriculture Community Outreach Programme (AgriCOP) to provide information to longhouse folk on downstream agricultural products which would give better returns.