He said with its vast hinterland, it was quite natural for the town once known for its timber production to take agriculture for food production as one of the focus to grow economically.
The federal government, he said, had enlisted the help of the state to upgrade the country’s status in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI), which stood at 28th position last year.
“This is well below that of Singapore which is ranked first. Ironically, for a country that has little land space, this is something that we really have to think hard about and do something concrete about it,” he said in his speech for a Chinese New Year gathering organised by United Chinese Association Sibu Division (UCA Sibu) here last night.
In his text of speech read by his deputy Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Abang Johari said with the decline in the timber industries, the people in Sibu would have to adapt to the needs of the changing times.
Abang Johari said the state government had allocated almost RM800 million to agriculture development this year through the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Lands and Regional Development, and RM300 million of the amount was set aside to assist the smallholders.
“All these funds need to be fully utilised to transform our agriculture into an industry, particularly with the use of technology,” he said.
The state’s agriculture sector was reported to have only contributed about 15 per cent of the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and faced a food trade deficit of about RM4 billion in 2018 and might increase to RM6 billion if nothing significant is done now to boost its food production.
Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Toh Puan Ragad Kurdi Taib graced the event.