(120) Y.B. Encik Baru Bian asked the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Modernisation of Agriculture: What are the plans, if any, to encourage rural farmers from communities surrounding Rural Growth Centre complexes to focus on a specific agricultural produce so that quality can be easily controlled and processing and marketing of the produce made more manageable?
Timbalan Ketua Menteri, Menteri Pemodenan Pertanian dan Menteri Pembangunan Luar Bandar (Y.B. Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang: Thank you Tuan Speaker, and response to question number 120 on today's Order Paper from Ahli Yang Berhormat for Ba'kelalan, I wish to say that my Ministry is giving high priority for poverty eradication program throughout Sarawak especially accelerating such program in the comparatively back areas so as to uplift the living standard of the rural people above poverty income level index. With poverty eradication program high and our State Barisan National Government Development Transformation agenda especially in the rural areas, my Ministry and the Department of Agriculture which is in the process of being restructured to provide a greater efficiency and productive delivery and profitability to the farmers. I encouraging the farmers in the rural areas including within the rural growth centres to participate in NCR joint ventures land development and also in the planting of Rubber New Planting, Replanting Programme and Small Holder Oil Palm where there is nearby palm oil to process the oil palm fruit branches.
Timbalan Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Permodenan Pertanian dan Menteri Pembangunan Luar Bandar (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang: As for the farmers residing in the coastal areas for example near Sundar Awat-Awat RGC, the recommended enterprise is aquaculture especially cage culture of high quality commercial varieties of fish, prawns and crabs which fetch very good price in readily available market in nearby Negara Brunei Darussalam, Labuan and Sabah as well as high demand by local restaurants in Lawas and Limbang. My Ministry is also intensifying our efforts in repopulating and seeding the fresh water rivers and streams in the Ulu Lawas, Ulu Trusan and in many rivers in the rural interior throughout Sarawak.
With high quality bibit-bibit Ikan Empurau, anak Ikan Semah and anak Ikan Tengadak through the Tagang System which empowers local community to observe good habit of civic consciousness by looking after the stretch of the river and to allow this anak Ikan Empurau, anak Ikan Semah, anak Ikan Tengadak or any other fish that we introduce, to grow to marketable size so that the local community can derive substantial additional income from the very high quality and highly demanded expensive fresh water fish.
In addition to the above, my Ministry always advice the farmers to plant suitable crops and to be close to get advise from the Department of Agriculture to ensure that the agriculture activities can derive maximum benefits. We are also incorporating the service of the Federal Departments or agencies like FAMA and the State Government Agencies in order to maximize the benefits that the farmers can derive from Rural Growth Centres. And throughout Sarawak for the next seven to ten years, the State Barisan Nasional Government has planned and is in the process of implementing to upgrade 46 Rural Agriculture Stations in the rural areas. So that we can place more qualified officers in greater numbers in the rural areas to provide service to the farmers and to enable the farmers to reach a target to get income above poverty line index income before the year 2020.
This is the priority of the State Barisan Nasional Government and it is for this reason Tuan Speaker, I have always said that any political parties who try to suppress and oppress the opportunity parties of the NCR land owners from participating in the poverty eradication programme, we would like to condemn them as the public political enemy of the rakyat, NCR land owners and with this respect I would like to tell our friends from DAP, you may make effort to go into the rural areas but our rural population will reject you. Thank you.
Tuan Speaker: Honorable Members from Ba'kelalan.
Y.B. Encik Baru Bian: (Soalan Tambahan) Thank you to the Honourable Minister for a very exhaustive reply. On record, PKR is not a party that will oppress and suppress the natives. We will champion for the natives. I have two additional questions the Honourable Minister:
1) What are the criteria for a place to be develop into a Rural Growth Centre criteria?
2) I have heard many years ago that Long Semadoh had been approved to be an RGC, is that still in the pipeline of the government?
Timbalan Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Permodenan Pertanian dan Menteri Pembangunan Luar Bandar (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang: Tuan Speaker sir, the government has intention to established Rural Growth Centres. In the upper Trusan area, it is an area called Long Semadoh. It is not Kampung Long Semadoh. I never say Kampung Long Semadoh. An area in the Long Semadoh general area has been proposed for the Rural Growth Centres. I went over, including during the election, promoting the idea of Rural Growth Centres to the community of Long Semadoh. And in spite of my explanation, it is to the negative because the reflection of Long Semadoh people is that they do not want to support the government. And in the neighbourhood, there is a general area in the neighbourhood of Long Semadoh area, in the general area of Ba'kelalan for which I know, from Ba'kelalan stretching from beyond Long Merarap, Budu Aru, Budu Bui, Long Tangit, Long Kumap, Pak Tawe, Long Langai and then Ba'kelalan proper. Whereas in the Long Semadoh area it is confined to Long Sukang, Long Lupeng, Long Semadoh, Sumaneseb, Kunang Kelingan, Long Beluyuk, Long Tanit, Long Kerabangan.
So those areas in the Semadoh as well as in Ba'kelalan because the Government still has the commitment to help the rural communities in the upper Trusan. There is a request from the Ba'kelalan people who have accepted the Rural Growth Centres concept and we are studying which area is most suitable, because if we government spends money for an area where people are not cooperative, we will be accused of wasting money which is a political capital for the opposition to attack us. So, we will not invite such danger.
And also the question also that we have not been able to provide sufficient fish fries, I admit now but when we upgrade our 46 facilities for rural areas later on, we‟ll be able to do so. But in the meantime, I‟ve been seeding the Ulu Trusan river including at Long Lidong below Long Semaduh, Kampung Semaduh and up river above Long Semaduh area with Ikan Empurau, hoping that these fish, when they swim up and down the river and when they grow big, they breed and also through the breeding, they can benefit all the population along up to Trusan River, to benefit the community including in Ba‟kelalan, Long Semaduh and towards the low reaches of the river. So, don‟t worry, we are not giving up the idea because as Minister in charge of rural development, property rural education is in our agenda but we would like to ensure that whatever project the Government proposed must be supported by the local communities. If the local communities don‟t support, then the money will be wasted. Thank you.
Tuan Speaker: Ahli-Ahli Yang Berhormat, question time is up. Otherwise, the Honourable Deputy Chief Minister will display more intimate knowledge about Ba‟kelalan.