DALAT: The Ministry of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development will consider the setting of a board to regulate, enhance and strengthen the development of the sago industry in Sarawak.
Its minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said a special taskforce to be created to look after the development of the industry would meet in Kuching next week .
“The proposed Sarawak Sago Board is a good idea.We will discuss its formation there ,”he said in a meeting with Sago smallholders from here today at the Sungai Talau Craun Research Centre(for Sago) station.
“The government acknowledges the increasing important contribution by Sago to the economy.
“For instance, in 2017 Sarawak exported RM86.8million worth of the commodity.
“In 2000, the export worth was at RM24.2million and in 2010, it went up to RM62.8 million,” he said.
“We are projecting to increase the value to RM100million by 2030.
“I will chair this meeting together with the Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Sri Fatimah Abdullah.
“We will study the various grievances of the smallholders and the industry with a view to resolving them,” he said.
He said one of the issues to be looked into was how to transport the harvested trunk to mills in the absence of roads or canals.
Uggah also announced an allocation of RM11million to develop the industry this year.
Uggah gave assurance the Sarawk GPS gpvernment under the leadership of the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his cabinet members would find ways and means to resolve, particularly, land related issues.
He said this would facilitate its efforts in its rural transformation process through modern agriculture.
The Mukah Division is Sarawak largest producer of Sago where a total area of 40,642 hectares had been planted out of Sarawak total area of 46,768 hectares under the crop.
Meanwhile Uggah advised the smallholders to diversify their economic activities so that they could earn more income.
He suggested that they planted crops like pineapple and banana which now enjoyed good demands outside Sarawak.
On marketing he said they could turn to their farmer’s association for assistance which could sell them to the ministry anchor companies.
He added he had recently told the Agriculture Department to come up with products utilising local fruits which would be in great abundance came their fruiting season.
In this way, the farmers could earn income by collecting and selling these fruits instead of leaving them to the birds and bats.
At the function Uggah also urged the Craun Research Centre to do more researches on Sago like coming up with new byproducts and shortening its maturity period from currently 10 to three years.
Chairman of the Dalat Sago Smallholders Association Pon bin Akie in his speech requested Uggah to help in getting titles to their land which had been promised to some of the owners 37 years ago.
He also wanted the government to consider their request for the formation of the Sarawak Sago Board.
Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah who is also Dalat assemblywoman, Director of the Agriculture Department Dr. Alvin Chai and Craun chief executive officer Zaidell Hussaini were among those present.