THE Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry will hold more seminars on smart farming to raise awareness among small and medium agricultural enterprises about the need to transform agricultural practices .
Its minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the seminars will also inform participants of the various opportunities in the agricultural and fisheries sectors based on the participants’ capabilities and interests.
“I am optimistic that such seminars will result in closer collaborations among industry players, the government and the people. This will ensure that we are able to achieve our goal of transforming the agriculture industry through digitalisation.
“I am confident that as more people going into agriculture and our rural farmers adopt modern and smart farming practices, they will be able to contribute more significantly towards our self-sufficiency level (SSL),” he said.
Kitingan made the remarks after officiating the Agriculture Transformation and Digitalisation Seminar, which was co-hosted by the ministry and SME Association of Sabah here on Friday.
Kitingan added that digitalisation of agriculture will benefit farmers by allowing them to reduce their production costs while maximising profits through the use of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices such as drones, accurate weather forecasting, soil analysis and other tools.
“All of this is possible if we all work together as one mind. We will be able to increase the output of our food industry and the introduction of advanced technologies will also create new jobs that we did not previously have.
“In the end, I hope it will fulfil my dream of Sabah becoming a net food exporter,” he said.
To that end, Kitingan said his ministry will do anything such as hold dialogues and seminars at the grassroots level to reach the target groups.
He believed that people at the grassroots level are eager and interested to find ways to improve their output.
“The presence of AgroBank and the Sabah Credit Corporation (SCC) here today also demonstrated that these financial institutions want to help the people. They even provide participants with low-interest loans to encourage them to transform and modernise their agricultural practices,” he said.
In terms of marketing, Kitingan agreed that more collection centres are needed in Sabah and that the current six Agricultural Products Collection Centres (APCC) run by the Rural Development Corporation (KPD) are insufficient to serve everyone.
“We intend to establish APCCs and mini collection centres in all districts throughout Sabah. It will require a very high cost but this is a need that must be met,” he said.
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