Taib noted that the state had the ingredients to become a major halal food producer if it put greater emphasis on agriculture as one of 10 sectors to be implemented under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).
The chief minister revealed that in 2009, the halal food market was worth an estimated US$600 billion and would reach US$1 trillion in the next three years.
“Through modern agriculture, Sarawak can become a major halal food producer once Tanjung Manis Halal Hub is fully operational in the next five years,” Taib said at the State Farmers’, Breeders’ and Fishermen’s Day at Bintulu Old Airport here yesterday.
He revealed that some 70,000 hectares of land in Tanjung Manis had been set aside for the halal hub, where some 40,000 hectares were allocated to farmers under the first phase.
“The first phase will benefit farmers with contract farming to ensure their products have ready markets,” he said.
Taib who is also Minister of Planning and Resource Management revealed that his deputy, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who is also minister of modernisation of agriculture would be tasked to duplicate the halal hub model in other districts to increase the income of rural farmers.
“He (Jabu) is to lead the state forward to embrace modern agriculture,” he said. Taib assured non-Muslims that the government’s emphasis on halal food production was not meant to Islamise them as even Nestle, a non-Muslim major global food producer based in Switzerland, has gone into halal food production.
“Our farmers must expand their knowledge and adopt modern agriculture to raise their income. Modernisation of agriculture means we have to adopt biotechnology to ensure our food is safe for consumption and for export,” he said.
Taib urged youths to be involved in agriculture as it is a lucrative endeavour. The cottage industry must continue to be developed as it would be a major contributor to the economy. “We must be willing to learn modern techniques of packaging and marketing,” he added.
The chief minister announced that from next year two special prizes would be awarded for food processing and entrepreneurship.
Source: BruDirect.com. Cover photo by Alex Hilton, Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom