KUCHING, Nov 17 ― Sarawak’s contribution to the national agriculture sector has improved to be the highest among states in 2016 from its third ranking in 2010, the State Legislative Assembly was told today.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the state’s contribution rose from RM11.8 billion or 14.3 per cent in 2010 to RM14.7 billion or 16.8 per cent in 2016.
Winding up debate for the ministry on the State Budget 2018, he also said that the agriculture sector contributed 13.5 per cent to the state’s Gross Domestic Product in 2016, with crops contributing 68.1 per cent; livestock, 4.5 per cent; fisheries, 5 per cent; and forestry and logging, 22.4 per cent.
“The growth in the crop sub-sector was mainly dependent on commodities, especially oil palm, rubber, pepper and sago, while poultry and swine were the main contributors to the growth of the livestock sub-sector,” he said.
However, he said, the overall growth of agriculture in the state decelerated, from 2 per cent in 2015 to negative 2.5 per cent in 2016. This was significantly due to the drop in production of crude palm oil, from 3.5 million tonnes to 2.5 million tonnes and palm kernel oil from 0.7 million tonnes to 0.5 million tonnes despite a slight improvement in the export price of crude palm oil, from RM2,500 per tonne to RM2,956.
“The situation is nevertheless expected to improve in 2017 with a projected growth of 1.9%. This is shown by an increase in the production of both crude palm oil and palm kernel oil in the first half of 2017,” he said.
He said the production of crude palm oil increased from 1.5 million tonnes in the first half of 2016 to 2.6 million tonnes for the same period in 2017 while the production of palm kernel oil registered an increase from 0.4 million tonnes to 0.5 million tonnes over the same periods.
Uggah said another important and encouraging trend in the state agriculture sector was the agriculture trade balance which had been positive for the period of 2010 to 2016. The surplus increased from RM4 billion in 2010 to RM6.9 billion in 2016, and had a positive impact on the state’s overall trade balance.
He also said that the state government had approved RM223 million for the development of the agriculture sector, and added that this would be complemented by federal government funding which could only be ascertained after discussions with the relevant federal ministries.
Uggah said that in an effort to strengthen and institutionalise the marketing of agricultural products throughout the state, the state government was taking the initiative to streamline the scattered and uncoordinated functions and activities of the numerous marketing outlets of agricultural produce into an integrated agriculture marketing system.
The integrated system aimed to provide an effective linkage from farm to market of agricultural produce through a systematic coordination of market outlets managed by the local council night markets; ‘pasar tani’ (farmers markets) of the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (FAMA); agro bazaars; collection, processing and packaging centres of anchor companies; FAMA collection centres; livestock auction centres; and wholesale agro markets.
The ministry, he said, was also looking into the possibility of establishing an Integrated wholesale market for agricultural produce in the state, modelled after the Jiangnan Market in Guanghou, China.
Uggah said native land development would continue to be an important agenda for agriculture and rural development in Sarawak, adding that there was a need to improve the current model of NCR (native customary rights) land development to provide an alternative model to the NCR landowners, namely the joint-venture model under the New NCR Land Development Concept. ― Bernama