Premier: Ministry renamed to reflect significance of agriculture to Sarawak
Posted on : 21 Sep 2022  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari places his palm on an iPad to symbolically launch Cosaf 2022. He is flanked by Dr Rundi (right) and Syed Razlan. – Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Sept 21): The Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Ministry has officially been renamed the Ministry of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development.

In announcing this, Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said the name change was in view of the significance of agriculture to the state.

“Agriculture is too important to us and, as such, I have decided to change the name of this ministry under Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, a hardworking minister with certain vision to Ministry of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development,” he said during the opening ceremony of the Congress on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security (Cosaf) 2022 here today.

Earlier this month, Dr Rundi had revealed that the ministry’s new name was to reflect its focus on the commercialisation of agriculture and cooperation with all newly-established regional development agencies.

He also said that while the functions of the ministry remained the same, the focus would be on commodities and that the state wanted to ensure both the food industry and commodities advance together with regional development.

In his speech today, Abang Johari said the Sarawak government placed strong emphasis on the digital transformation of agriculture.

Citing the government’s initiative to build agro parks in several regions across the state, he said these smart farming parks must be equipped with all the necessary infrastructure, including digital infrastructure based on 5G.

“The local companies together with foreign investors can then identify what sort of crops they want to produce while sharing these infrastructures.

“For instance, if you are in Kuala Lumpur and you have your industrial agro park here producing something, you can see and manage your farm through your digital device in real time from Kuala Lumpur. That is the way forward for us to develop agriculture as an industry,” he said.

He added the state government has welcomed foreign investors, such as from Singapore, to explore agriculture opportunities at the agro parks.

“Singapore has indicated to us that they need food and they cannot rely on their existing outlets.

“So, we said, well we have our agro parks so you can come here and manage together from Singapore where the quality is assured because you are also the co-producer,” he said.

He noted the state’s production of agriculture must be well-calculated.

“Your market access must be identified and it becomes sustainable.

“That is the way forward for the Sarawak government and that is why we want to become the net (food) exporter not only within Malaysia but also to other parts of the world by 2030,” said Abang Johari.

During the ceremony, he also witnessed the exchange of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, as well as the symbolic handover of funds for the AgriHub@Gedong project.

The state government has awarded RM3 million to AgriHub@Gedong, a project by UPM Bintulu Campus where the university will conduct a knowledge transfer programme in padi farming and agricultural technology.

Among those present were Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development deputy ministers Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail and Martin Ben, UPM board of directors chairman Datuk Seri Diraja Syed Razlan Syed Putra Jamalullail, UPM vice-chancellor Dato Prof Dr Mohd Roslan Sulaiman, and Ministry of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development permanent secretary Datu Edwin Abit.