Thursday, 10 May 2012

Have agricultural expos in all districts in Sabah – Musa


PUTATAN: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman wants agricultural expos to be held in all districts in Sabah as a platform to expose local farmers to the latest development in the sector.
Such events, he said, could help in disseminating information on new findings that could be applied by the agriculture communities to improve their income and help retain the sector as one of the major economic earners for the state.
Speaking at the launch of Putatan Agricultural Expo 2012 here yesterday, Musa said the agriculture sector had been identified as one of the major focuses under the state’s development Halatuju launched in 2003, alongside the tourism and manufacturing sectors.
Apart from reducing dependency on imported food products, further development of this sector would also help improve the income of Sabahans, he said.
“I believe the expo here today would benefit the target group and everyone involved … And I am confident that with the cooperation of all parties in this district, it will propel the growth of the agriculture and agro-based industry not only here locally but in the whole state, and make us a major food producer in the country.
“This is why I must propose that the ministry (of agriculture and food industry) expands this event to other districts so that agricultural potential of each district can be fully developed and utilized,” he said.
Musa stressed that it was the hope of the state government that farmers, breeders and fishermen communities across Sabah continue to improve themselves by incorporating new technologies into their operations.
By doing so, he said they would be able to significantly improve their output and revenues and prove the old perception that agriculture is a low income industry for the poor, is wrong.
“Agriculture could be a lucrative business if done right,” Musa asserted.
Met after the launching, he said many agricultural development projects and programmes had been successfully implemented in Sabah and had greatly benefited farmers and local agro-based businesses.
As such, Musa, who is also State Finance Minister, said he would request the federal government to provide more allocations to fund similar projects in the future.
The state government, he added, would also implement more programmes aimed at encouraging more people to participate and benefit from the sector, and promote awareness that agriculture is a lucrative industry.
“Improving the income of the farmers would translate to improvement of the overall economy of the state … we are on the right track to move forward,” he said.
He also said the promising potential in agriculture, coupled with political stability and vast fertile land in Sabah had attracted major international players to come in and invest in the sector.
Among the latest ones, he noted, was an American company which waslooking to develop a multi-billion fruit planting project in Sabah.
“Apart from the lobster project that I mentioned before this, there is also a US-based company who wants to come in. We are currently looking for a suitable site for the project and in discussions to find out which agency would be best to collaborate with them.
“Many investors are coming to Sabah because they are convinced of the political stability we have. That is why we do not encourage street demonstration that could undermine this stability, this will not benefit anyone,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin in his welcoming remarks said the Integrated Agricultural Complex in Putatan could be developed into an attractive agro-tourism destination.
He said the complex dubbed as the ‘Green Lung of Putatan’ could be packaged as a tourism product to attract both local and foreign visitors.
“I was also made to understand that this five-hectare complex will be developed as a permanent food production park that will lead in intensive high-tech farming. This project represents an opportunity for the local community in Putatan to venture into this field and become agro entrepreneurs,” he added.

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