KUCHING (Nov 23): Sarawak recorded an increasing deficit of 29.8 pct in food export value from 2017 to 2021, said Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail.
The Deputy Minister of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development said for 2017, total exports stood at RM1.02 billion compared to total imports of RM4.61 billion, resulting in a deficit of RM3.59 billion.
“In 2021, total export was RM1.11 billion compared to total import of RM5.77 billion, resulting in a deficit of RM4.66 billion. This means the increase in the deficit in the last five years was 29.8 per cent,” he said in the august House today.
He said this when answering a question from Rolland Duat Jubin (GPS-Meluan) about Sarawak’s status in achieving net food exporter status.
Dr Abdul Rahman said the agriculture sector is one of the main focuses under the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 (PCDS 2030), which aims to make Sarawak a net food exporter by the year 2030.
He said one of the approaches that the ministry has taken to realise the goal includes focusing on the production of high-value and commercial-scale agro-food products.
Secondly, the ministry also seeks to increase the involvement of the private sector under the Public-Private and Community Partnership (PPCP) business model; research, development and innovation; as well as the use of modern and digital technology throughout the production chain.
“Also, developing and upgrading agricultural infrastructure and expanding agro-food production areas.
“In his Budget 2023 speech, the Premier of Sarawak has announced an allocation of RM509 million for my ministry to implement various agricultural projects next year,” he said.
On Meluan’s potential in agriculture, Dr Abdul Rahman said that among the agro-foods that could potentially be developed in the area commercially and on a large scale are durians, pineapples, and bananas.
He said the Agriculture Department has implemented various programmes and projects such as fruit and vegetable industry development, cash crops, and pepper plantations in Meluan.
“Most agricultural activities are still carried out on a small scale.
“To develop the agricultural industry, my ministry will identify the private sector that has the potential to lead the development of the agro-food industry through the PPCP business model,” he added.