KOTA KINABALU 1/11/2012: Sabah must fully exploit its vast potentials in the agricultural sector, particularly rice plantation, to ensure food security for the state, said adviser to Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB), Petrus Gimbad.
He said Sabah need to seriously look into ways of reducing rice imports as these would eventually affect the livelihoods of the people, especially if the government subsidies on essential foods were cut.
“It’s important for Sabah to have food security and this can only be achieved by being self-sufficient, especially in rice production,”
Gimbad said this to Bernama after the Roundtable Debate on Sabah’s Economic Transformation which was held here recently.
The roundtable was organised by International Investor and Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority.
He said global warming has affected rice production in some rice-producing countries such as Vietnam.
“Can you imagine what will happen if they stop exporting rice? If we don’t have food security we will be in trouble.
“If the (government) subsidy is taken out, the poor will become poorer because they have to buy basic food, therefore we have no excuse (not to go into commercial paddy plantation),” he said.
Gimbad, who also sits on the board of Sabah Development Bank, said the agricultural sector would continue to be an important engine of economic growth for Sabah.
He said the rubber industry also has a competitive future.
“Sabah should go into big rubber plantation as natural rubber is most competitive compared to synthetic rubber,” he said.
On SLDB, he said, it was difficult for foreign investors to participate in its agricultural projects such as palm oil plantation as most of the land was privately-owned.