Saturday, May 17, 2008

Food Watch: Sarawak primed to be country's top rice-producing state

sources: text - nstonline, ricemap - d.i.d sarawak
KUCHING: With a vast area suitable for padi planting, Sarawak would be the country's main rice producer in the near future, state Secretary Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot said yesterday. He said this would help overcome the national rice shortage.

"Under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score), food-based industries are the top industries prioritised by the government," he said at a public forum on "rising prices and the people's welfare: current measures and future steps", organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Isis).

Baya said the food-based industries included rice, palm oil, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture. "The state government will promote and develop these industries in a big way to meet the needs of both the local and export markets."

He also said a Halal Park would be built on a 10,000ha piece of land in Tanjung Manis in the Mukah Division. He said the federal government had identified Sarawak as one of the country's halal hubs under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. A vast stretch of land, from Tanjung Manis to Bakam in Miri Division, will have many development areas within Score.

Baya said the agriculture sector to be developed within Score would be the catalyst for modern farming in the state. "It will help the efforts to increase the production of food in terms of meat, fruits and vegetables. The efforts are quite relevant as we strive to reach self-sufficiency in food production."
He said Sarawak was feeling the effects of rising food prices brought about by rising fuel prices.
The Consumer Price Index jumped from 1.7 per cent last year to 2.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

Isis chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Mohamed Jawhar Hassan said the soaring prices of food, if not contained, would have a serious effect on the people's well-being and the country.

In Asia, he said about one billion people were seriously affected by the increase in food prices. Worldwide, 33 countries were being threatened, socially and politically, by the food crisis due to many factors, including the rising price of oil.

He said there were people who predicted that the price of oil could reach US$200 per barrel (RM638), from the present US$125 per barrel.

The views at the forum would be submitted to the federal government, he added.

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