CM: Modern farming to meet global demand

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Abang Johari (centre) with the State Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2017 recipients ( from left) Hii, Nelson, Yong and Chew.

KUCHING: Technological innovation is inevitable in the state’s agriculture industry for it to produce crops to meet global demand.

In pointing this out, Chief Minister Datuk Patanggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the use of digital technology in agriculture is no longer a niche for a small group of farmers.

He added in effort to digitise the industry the state government has amended the land policy and built its first Agro Park in Sarikei which will be completed next year.

The 600-acre park will be divided into blocks (20 acres each) to be rented out to agricultural entrepreneurs as their platforms to produce crops through modern farming methods such as fertigation (using artificial intelligent sensors).

“We can maximise production in our agricultural sector by combining technology and creativity,” he said during Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) 66th Annual Dinner and launch of Wisma SCCI with Akademi Melayu Sarawak at Hilton Hotel on Friday.

Abang Johari said the land will be rented out instead of alienated because some people had applied for land purportedly for agriculture but never farm it.

“They waited for the price of the land to rise then sold it off. Amending the land policy allows both Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera entrepreneurs to make use of that land. That is the only way forward.

“We have changed the policy, we have established our first agro park in Sarikei, and we

are going to identify places in Serian and Samarahan as it is situated near urban centre and ports.”

Sarawak has the resources with digital infrastructure coming up, coupled with people able to explore the potential to produce  crops for the global market.

“Once the state’s big data rolls out, it is up to the people to analyse the data, conduct research and create something needed by the world market, no longer focusing on the domestic market.”

Research can be carried out in various fields such as healthcare and renewable energy.

On the production of hydrogen, Abang Johari said the state is keen to produce hydrogen fuel, a safe energy source to generate our Light Rail Transit (LRT) and vehicles as the state has abundant water resources.

“Water will become as valuable as oil, which is why a lot of people speculate that in 10 years’ time maybe the price of oil will be US$10 per barrel due to alternative energy including hydrogen.

“If world demand for hydrogen goes up, then we will become the new Arabs.”

During the dinner the State Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2017 were presented to Dr Gregory Hii Sui Cheng, Datuk Nelson Balang Rining, Francis Yong Piaw Soon and Datuk Chew Chiaw Han.