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137 initiatives outlined for agri sector
Published on: Sunday, September 11, 2022
By: Sherell Jeffrey
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The Ministry aims to produce at least one new variety or clone of food crops every two years starting in 2021.
THE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and its eight Departments/Agencies have worked hard over the past year to realise the achievement of Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) aspiration which celebrates its first anniversary on March 29, 2022. 

Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey G. Kitingan said as many as 137 initiatives have been outlined for the agricultural sector which is a crucial hub for the development of SMJ.



Jeffrey 

“I’m happy to report that the Ministry and its departments/agencies has achieved 92 per cent of its overall performance in 2021. 

“I am certain the growth of the Sabah agriculture sector would progress with the strong backing of the State Government led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor,” he said.

He pointed out that everyone working for the Ministry, including its divisions and agencies, gave the best service even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year, the Ministry received State allocation of RM112,393,048 and this year, it is RM111,873,650. 

In general, the approved fund is normally much lower than the amount applied by the departments and agencies.

Among short term goals set by the Ministry is to maximise utilisation of resources to increase productivity and industry players’ income, to enhance the ability and efficiency of smallholders in order to achieve a commercial and dynamic scale. 

The Ministry also aims to increase investments in the agriculture sector and increase product export value and accelerate the agriculture-based industry and downstream activities. 

As for its long-term goals, the Ministry aims to transform agriculture into a major/significant contributing sector to the Gross Domestic Product growth by increasing productivity and efficiency.

Some of the constraints faced by the Ministry in achieving its objectives includes funding; namely the approved and allocated fund is usually less than what was applied for the budgeted year. 

Other constraints involve basic infrastructures and utilities and high costs of production. 

The rest of the interview: 

The rice SSL for Sabah in 2021 is 22.8 per cent and the SSL target by 2030 is 60 per cent. In March this year, you announced that your Ministry was discussing with Felda to develop 11,000 hectares in the Dent Peninsula of Lahad Datu that was identified as suitable for rice cultivation. What is the progress so far?

In principle, Felda has no objection to the proposal. However, in order to ensure the success of this proposal, Felda will conduct a feasibility study. 

Based on the 2020 Census, the total population of Sabah is 3.4 million of which 24 per cent are aged 40 and above. Most of the workforce in the agricultural sector consists of the elderly while the young are less interested or involved in this sector. What are the Ministry’s efforts to encourage the participation of young people in this sector?

a) Human capital development


To produce knowledgeable and skilled human resources in agriculture by conducting courses and training. These courses and training are provided by DOA in six (6) training centres, namely, Sabah Agricultural Institute (IPS) Timbang Menggaris Kota Belud, Agricultural Vocational Training Centre (PLPV) Lahad Datu, Integrated Agriculture (PLPB) Training Centre Putatan and Agricultural Training Centres (PLP) in Kota Marudu, Tenom and Sandakan.

b) Incentive Programs

Development of Permanent Crops and Short-Term Crops for farmers including youth who own or rent suitable land. This incentive includes grants in aid for developing land, purchasing input materials and farm equipment with a value range from RM10,000 to RM20,000 per hectare depending on the types of crops. This incentive also covers the ‘topping-up’ of crop material or fertilizer for existing farmers.

Other incentives that are available to farmers are as follows:

i. The State Government through the Rice Crop Development Incentive Program is providing ploughing aid to the farmers.

ii. The Federal Government is supplying fertiliser subsidies with a value of RM1,901 per hectare. 

c) Downstream processing

The Agriculture Based Industry Development Program offers training in downstream product production and entrepreneurship. Matching Grants are also made available to eligible and potential participants who apply for assistance in the form of machines and equipment, or who apply to upgrade their premises, at a rate of 70% of the government’s expenses and 30% of their own.

d) Agroprenuer Muda

A programme designed specifically for younger generations interested in pursuing agro-entrepreneurship in agricultural sectors such as crop production, livestock and fisheries, as well as agro-based industries. The initiative is funded through grants of up to RM20,000 or financing from financial institutions such as Agrobank and Tekun Nasional. Applications for this programme are open throughout the year to youth/target groups who are qualified and meet the conditions that have been set.

e) Agro-tourism

The current trend shows that young people are interested in venturing into livestock through agrotourism. For example, Desa Farm, Rabbit Farm, Funky Farm.

What is the Ministry’s effort in intensifying research and development activities to increase the industry’s capacity in local fertiliser to reduce import dependency?

a) Collaboration with institutions of higher learning


There are ongoing collaborations with final year/master students from UPM and UMS to find alternative feed sources for livestock fertilizers. DVS is studying the efficacy of using pineapple stems as ruminant fodder with UMS students and improving silage formulation with UMS and UPM students. DVS will develop these alternative ruminant fodders if they show potential.

b) Increase the usage of organic fertiliser, to replace the chemical fertiliser / imported fertiliser

Increase local fertiliser production capability in the industry to decrease reliance on imports. These include stepping up research and development efforts, and utilizing compost or other organic fertilizers to supplement the use of inorganic. Additionally, we urge farmers to register for the Malaysian Organic Scheme (myOrganic), which will formally acknowledge and certify their operations as organic farms.

What is the Ministry’s effort to assist or encourage mainstream rural farmers who are still relying on traditional methods?

a) KPD Agriculture Produce Collection Centre (APCC)


KPD Agriculture Produce Collection Centre (APCC) is equipped with collection rooms, grading, cold storage, packaging, and transportation of agricultural products. APCC also provides a marketing system known as KPD Smart, which allows KPD to keep digital records of all agricultural activities of their participants and manage supplies to match current and future demands.

b)Agriculture Extension Programme

Which consists of three components, and provides services as follows:

- transfer of Technology” (TOT)

- Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Promotion Scheme

- Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Technology.

c) Mechanisation and automation

Livestock Sustenance Program is one-off assistance in the form of materials and fodder amounting to RM732,000 in the year 2020. Chopper machines, for example, were distributed to 108 farmers in 25 districts across Sabah as one of the goat farm appliances.

What are some of the new agriculture ventures planned for Sabah?

a) Digitalisation


i. KPD is a digital marketing network system, which allows KPD to keep digital records of all agricultural activities of their participants and manage supplies to match current and future demands.

ii. e-Kan is an online entrepreneurial information platform that showcases new products and brands based on the fisheries of Sabah. This platform is a great medium for the dissemination of online entrepreneurial information in the state of Sabah, in addition to promoting and selling their products online.

iii. iiVMS – intruder invention Vessel Monitoring System key features are as follows:

- Data are secured – proprietary encrypted protocol tracking data are pushed from Globalstar Gateway to ii VMS servers, it cannot be tracked by 3rd party SW

- The hardware is small and compact, it is designed for rugged marine environments and has backup batteries. The unit will auto switch over to a backup battery the even when main power is disconnected, the user will be notified

- The monitoring software will provide audible alerts when iiVMS Key Features the main battery is disconnected from tracking unit

- The hardware is equipped with a panic button, user can activate during distress, CMS will trigger alerts and send alert messages to the responsible party

- The software will provide audible alarms to CMS and fishing owners when vessels entered or exit international water or operated illegally in prohibited areas (To be discussed). User can define their own polygons



The icon of Sabah fruits – Pisang Sabah. 

 

- Display Latitude, Longitude, Speed, and course of vessels

- Provide Historical data playback for debriefing

- All tracking data are date/time stamp (from GPS data – data cannot be edited/changed by operators)

- Provide details vessels information such as registration number, Captain’s name, vessel owner’s name, respective telephone contact numbers and other information iiVMS Key features

- Display International boundary lines and gazetted fishing zones (as per DOFS guidelines) and marine parks on Google maps

- Allow Superuser to create a group or individual login account

b) Lembah Tenusu Borneo (DVS)

The National Dairy Industry Development Program aims to increase local fresh milk production capacity by 20 million litres over a five-year period, from 2021 to 2025, by increasing the population of 10,000 dairy farmers.

This programme will only be implemented in 2023 and the department has received submissions from two GLCs, Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) and Desa Keningau Livestock Industry Sdn Bhd (DKLI). The distribution amount and funding percentage are still being discussed with DVS Putrajaya.

This programme will target the development of the Borneo dairy valley from 2023 to 2024, involving entrepreneurs at large through the procurement of 3,500 pregnant virgin dairy cows, three units of milk tankers of 3,000 litres, and 6 units of RFT of 3,000 litres. For small breeders, 1,000 pregnant dairy cows and 40 units of 500 litres cooling tanks will be purchased.

c) Fruit Valley (DOA)

The Development/Extension Service Program is implemented by the Department of Agriculture Sabah through 25 District Agriculture Offices in the state of Sabah, coordinated by the Agricultural Extension Section (Seksyen Pengembangan Pertanian (S2P). The goal of the department’s extension service program is to encourage and accelerate agricultural and societal development by transferring the latest technology from the department and services in implementing good agricultural practices to the target group.





This programme is funded by the State Government and the Federal Government, which aims to strengthen and expand extension services in Sabah in order to increase the effectiveness of development activities, particularly in applying Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to agricultural operators and providing development methodologies and support service equipment to extension agents.

Transfer of Technology (ToT) and guidance to the target group are implemented through the Program Bersama Pelanggan (PBP). PBP is delivered to the target group by the Extension Agent/Development Supervisor at least three working days a week (at least once per day) via the Food Crop Entrepreneurs Group (Kumpulan Pengusaha Tanaman Makanan (KPTM)) or Agro-based Industry Entrepreneurs Group (Kumpulan Pengusaha Industri Asas Tani (KPIAT)) or Agriculture Entrepreneurs Group (Kumpulan Pengusaha Pertanian(PBP)) is conducted on a scheduled and unscheduled basis according to the needs of the target group. 

The PBP activities that are being carried out are as follows:

i. Visiting farm/farmer/entrepreneur premises.

ii. Meeting with farmers/entrepreneurs at the Extension Agent’s office (farmers’ visit to the Extension Agent).

iii. KPTM/ KPIAT/ KPA meeting/ seminar/ dialogue.

iv. Demonstration Plot.

v. “Hands-on” training.

vi. KPTM/ KPIAT One Day Course.

vii. Study Tour.

viii. Online communication (telephone, WhatsApp and so on).

ix. Pesticide Residue Monitoring Advice - aims to educate farmers on how to use pesticides safely and in accordance with established recommendations in order to ensure food crops are safe to eat and grown in an environmentally friendly manner through sampling, as well as Special Courses and Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) Advisory Services.

x. Digital advisory services such as the Smart Farmer Portal, Farmer Service Partner and E-Pest and Disease provides information on the identification and diagnosis of pests and plant diseases to help farmers and the general public recognize and diagnose pests and diseases that attack crops.

Sarawak is planning to become the agriculture powerhouse of the nation and is even collaborating with Singapore to produce chicken for the island. Has Sabah any such plans?

a) Amongst the plans that have been derived are:

i. To sustain Sabah as the next exporter of fisheries product

ii. To become the main producer of coconut in Malaysia for downstream processing (collaboration with LINACO).

iii. Collaboration with Aquina

b)  To enhance export capability in 2021 Department of Veterinary Services Sabah has exported:

i. 27 million chicken eggs to W.P. Labuan and Hong Kong

ii. 2,142 live cattle and 177 live buffalo to W.P. Labuan, Sarawak, Brunei Darussalam and Peninsular Malaysia;

iii. 391 live goats to W.P. Labuan, Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam

iv. 953,400 chicks to W.P Labuan, Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam;

v. 606 pigs to W.P Labuan;

vi. 57 metric tons of swiftlet nests to Hong Kong, China,

Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak

vii. 2,350,540 litres of liquid milk to W.P. Labuan, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

- First of a two-part series





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