By Chris Maskilone
KOTA KINABALU: BIMP-Eaga Business Council (BEBC) Malaysia is calling on the State Government to seriously look at agriculture to boost exports in view of the US dollar increasing trend.
BEBC Malaysia Chairman Datuk Roselan Johar Mohamed said this was among the findings during the recently-initiated biennial business consultation between BEBC and the Hong Kong Bank Malaysia Berhad.
“It is truly something which should have been done long time ago. The quality of discussion has been of the highest grade.
“Presently, we both unanimously agreed that we need to boost our exports; especially when the US dollar is on the high. At the same time, it would be wise to defer or delay imports when buying becomes more expensive,” he said.
In a statement here, Roselan said that looking at the Sabah’s dry export statistics, it was worrying that not much progress has been made, hence the need for everyone to find alternative source of exports.
“The figures are nothing to be proud of and we hold a considered opinion that we now have to look at agriculture as a new source of export,” he said.
According to him, BEBC has long been crowing on Pawlounia Elongata and Napier Grass, but land matters seemed to be the stumbling block for its development.
“On top of that, investors’ confidence has not reached the level of acceptance. Perhaps, it now becomes the Government’s responsibility to start the ball rolling by initiating serious test plots to confirm that both Pawlounia and Napier can be our crop of the future.
“For the record, we have Pawlounias growing in Selangor, Kelantan, Perlis and Melaka. This tree is good for furniture as well as veneers. It is lightweight and possess very strong tensile strength,” he said.
Roselan said sample calculation has shown that by harvesting 10,000 hectares of Pawlounia a year, it could generate 340,000 of export containers per annum.
In order to generate sustainability and continuity of exports, five separate plantations of the same quantum are needed, he said, adding that this could be done on Forest Management Unit (FMU) lands.
“We also agreed that a vigorous expansion of our SME development has to be
strategised because it is such an important catalyst to our economic well-being. The Thai system is a tested example and much can be learned from their experiences,” he said.-SabahNewsToday