The Institute of Economic Appeal (IEA) has produced a report entitled "Commercial Agriculture: Is It A Cure Or A Curse, Malaysian and African Experience Constructed" by Keith Boyfield.
The report highlights the roles played by SALCRA in spearheading a move to develop native customary right land into commercial plantation. SALCRA provides funding, training and technical advice to local farmers to help them diversify in establishing transport and logistical operations as well as small holders packaging units.
This role involves working with the brain of Local Entrepreneurial Initiative and the promotion of stable property rights rather than centrally planning land use. This is very favorable report was produced by The Institute of Economic Appeal and Independent Body following a visit by its 8-member delegation to Sarawak sometime in April 2012,
During the visit, members of the delegation led by Mr. Keith Boyfield had dialogue sessions and discussions with members of local business community, representatives of statutory bodies and general public including participants in the land development schemes.
They visited Palm Oil Plantation at Sungai Stengang in Stungkur, conducted interviews with many SALCRA scheme participants and visited Palm Oil Mill. After visiting Sarawak they visited Peninsular Malaysia for the same purpose.
The report says the evidence indicate that these accusations are exaggerated and that the industry has in fact done much to support wildlife conservation efforts since it has such a high yielding crop oil palm plantation contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity; other crops require far more land.
In Malaysia, for example, stable property right and at reasonable business environment has led to a huge expansion of palm oil industry to the point where the shortage of land is in the main constraining factor.
This module has been developed in Sarawak and throughout Malaysia where SALCRA, which is a local government agency, has issued 5,069 land titles. As at February 2012, there were nearly 17,000 land owners participating in the scheme. The number has continued to increase and the total number of participating land owners according to official data now total 22,539.
The details were revealed by Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, who is also the Minister of the Modernization of Agriculture, in winding the debate on Budget 2014 during the recent sitting of the State Legislative Assembly.
He says the state Barisan Nasional government, unlike the opposition DAP, has been very successful in transforming the Rakyat to achieve higher income economy through NCR joint venture program; there are many examples of the success. DAP, which is against the participation of NCR land owners in development, has gone to the extent of suppressing and oppressing opportunities for Native Land owners to participate in land development as part of the overall poverty eradication program.
He says a total 367,000 hectares of NCR lands are being developed through 42 joint ventures between the Native land owners and investors. Seven have been completed, while 26 projects are under field planting and 15 in land bank creation. A total of 47,703 hectares are at various stage of maturity out of the total of 70,000 hectares planted areas.
Besides, five joint ventures, involving NCR land with total acreage of about 42,000 hectares, have yet to be signed. The five new projects will bring to about 400,000 hectares being developed under NCR joint ventures.
Datuk Patinggi Jabu says the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture is fully committed and actively making preparations to increase efficiency and productivity through many planned development programs. The Department of Agriculture is undergoing restructuring and combining the experience and commercial management expertise from SALCRA, the Department of Agriculture is beefed up with many changes of innovation and creativeness.
The Ministry will establish the State Research Council as suggested by the Chief Minister to ensure that the research findings can be translated into effective field applications and to be further developed into commercialization by the private sector.
The Ministry has started to rehabilitate and upgrade officers or station or forward basis in the rural areas where higher grade agriculture staff and greater number of agriculture staff and support logistic be given to serve in those rural areas.
Datuk Patinggi Jabu says the ministry has drawn up the program to intensify the implementation of the transformation program for the Rakyat to achieve higher income economy. For example, a total of 46 strategic locations have been identified in coastal and interior areas will be ready in the next 3 years. The full complement of agriculture team will be stationed to join all the other dedicated civil servants serving the Rakyat throughout Sarawak.
The Ministry recently conducted a special convention, which was attended by all model farmers, livestock breeders, fishermen, who had been selected during the last 10 years. The recommendations from the convention will provide positive input, feedbacks to the Government to improve efficiency and increase productivity in the future.
He says the State government firmly believes in giving priority to education to build up the capacity of the Rakyat o understand and participate in the development of modernization of agriculture. For this reason, the agriculture program is placing strong emphasis on the training of trainee farmers for a period of two years to get the intake from rural areas, including Penans so that they can be very effective to reach out to the communities in remote areas.
Datuk Patinggi Jabu says the construction of the 11 Padi Bario projects, now 93 per cents completed, is scheduled for completion at the end of the year. There were some delays in because the road to Bario was cut off for three months from March to June 2013 as a result of the collapse of the bridge along the logging road to Bario.
Nonetheless, 200 hectares of paddy land in the project area, about 140 hectares are now being planted with paddy during the present season. A big increase in the production of Bario rice is expected during harvest time in January 2014. Bario rice production project is jointly managed by the Ministry and Bario Ceria Sdn Bhd, as the anchor company
He says the Ministry of Modernization of Agriculture, through Agriculture Department will provide services such as farm input and mechanization subsidies, quality seed production, crop protection, agriculture extension and Bario Rice Certification Scheme. The entire project is expected to be fully cultivated in 2014. By then Bario rice production will increase to around 300 metric tons a year, which is about 3 to 4 times more in production before the project started.
The rice production program in Batang Lupar is to develop an area of about 5,100 hectares to double and single-cropping of padi. This project costs RM950 million and will benefit 5,167 paddy farmers. The project area includes padi land along Batang Lupar stretching from Entulang to Seduku, which is referred to as Bijat-Stumbin portion and along Sungai Lingga stretching from Lingga to Banting. The construction of primary infrastructure for flood mitigation works in the Bijat- Stumbin portion, which has been delayed, is rescheduled to complete in the first half of next year.
The State Government has appointed BERNAS as the anchor company to manage rice production and marketing activities in Bijat-Stumbin portion, which includes the existing DID schemes at Sg. Entulang, Stumbin, Gran, Bijat and Seduku. The pilot project, established by BERNAS in 2011, is managed to achieve padi yields of between 3.6 - 4.0 tonnes padi per hectare per season, giving an income of about RM3, 900 to RM4,300 per hectare of padi crop.
BERNAS has been given a target of 200 hectares to develop into productive farm land. As of October 2013, BERNAS has been able to get 146 hectares of paddy land owned by 308 farmers to join the project. A total of RM446, 000 has been paid to 450 farmers, who own 223 hectares of paddy land at a rate of RM2, 000 per hectare. This is inclusive of the 142 land owners of the 77 hectares that was developed as the pilot farm in 2011.
A total of 1,260 heads of Brahman breeder cattle, comprising 1,200 cows and 60 bulls were distributed through six projects under cattle integration with oil palm in the State in June 2012. After one year, that breeder stock has produced 178 calves, representing a calving rate of about 15%. The rate is expected to increase during the second year and subsequently to reach 55% by the third year in 2015.
The Ministry of Modernization of Agriculture has plans to assist 50 buffalo farmers in Limbang and Lawas in the next years in order to revive the buffalo industry in northern Sarawak.The management system being promoted will involve a change from current free grazing to semi-intensive system with Good Animal Husbandry Practices (GAHP).
As a start, the department will purchase 85 breeder buffaloes from Sabah to replace the existing aged and non-productive stock in Meragang Buffalo Station in Lawas. The construction of the Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS) for the Research and development of Ikan Empurau which was completed end of last year will be fully operational once electricity supply is connected by end of this month.
The Empurau Research and Development Centre (ERDC) at Tarat, built at a cost of RM4.825 million, is expected to be commissioned in December 2013. The whole outfit will have a security fence to ensure that the whole breeding station is well fenced.
The ERDC, is expected to be in operation early 2014 is expected to produce about 200,000 Empurau fish fry annually using the existing 8 active broodstock. It will continue to carry out 3 main R & D activities namely (i) breeding for mass production of Empurau fry, (ii) broodstock development to increase production by raising the F1 and also the immature fish caught from the wild and (iii) feeds and nutrition to identify the most suitable type of feeds using both formulated and local fruits for fast growth and gonad development.
The construction of three blocks of quarters at Terubok Research Station in Lingga, started in March 2013, is expected to be completed in May 2014. At the same time, the construction of a new hatchery building and other facilities including pump house, semi- concrete intake pond, septic tank and sedimentation pond will commence in January 2014 and expected to be completed in June 2015.
the Terubok Research Station in Lingga will be manned by two Research Officers, three Assistant Fisheries Officers, four general workers and two outboard drivers.
The Department of Agriculture will continue to improve the methods in capturing live Terubok brood stock, collecting Terubok milt for cryo-preservation, and transporting live Terubok brood stock to our Research and Development Station at Lingga so as not
to cause unnecessary stress Terubok fishes so that they can give very satisfactory result in Terubok Breeding Programs.
Meanwhile, the Iban Cultural Symposium, attended by more than 500 community and political leaders of the Iban community unanimously adopted a resolution to call on the State Government to immediately amend Sarawak Land Code so as to give due recognition to and validate sales of NCR land whether by payment in the form of custom Tungkus Asi or by any other mandatory or other consideration between natives on retrospective effect.
The Majlis Adat Istiadat is urged to study and review all customary laws that may be detrimental to the progress of Iban community and to make recommendation to Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri to readdress the issue. The symposium takes cognizance of the meaning of Tungku Asi as expressed by Iban expert on Adat, Datuk Seri Edmund Langgu Ak Saga.
Sarawak MonitorDecember 5, 2013