With 80 per cent of the population involved in farming, Sabah’s future revolves around agriculture. Except for rice which is still imported, Sabah is trying to attain self-sufficiency in food production and produces surplus vegetables both highland and lowland vegetables, surplus of poultry and eggs, surplus of marine fish, surplus of milk, but, the fact remains that the State still has a large proportion of population which is poor and there is still poverty.

I actually encouraged to do this through the BERJAYA era...

I was encouraged to do this ever since the BERJAYA era...

The challenge therefore is on how to bring a synergy between agriculture and food security; on how to turn agriculture economically and ecologically sustainable in a manner that it does not lead farmers in distress to sell off their land to ‘outsiders’ and become landless and at the same time provide food and nutrition for the masses. A healthy agriculture is also the first line of defence against poverty.Sabah therefore needs to discard the Green Revolution approach. It has to stop poisoning its soils, contaminating the water bodies and the environment and pushing more and more farmers out of agriculture. Sabah needs to shun the industrial model of farm growth, and build an ecologically sustainable farming model driven by a futuristic vision. Agriculture has to be re-designed and linked with its own traditional time-tested public distribution system – where the communities have been in control and have managed the food needs in a kampong.Instead of chemical fertilisers, vermi-composting as a cottage industry has to be encouraged on a massive scale. This will restore soil health, increase crop productivity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will also generate more rural employment. Chemical pesticides need to be eliminated besides its so expensive, I know I was in this industry in the past.

Sabah can learn from the ‘Non-Pesticides Management’ system of agriculture from Indonesia and Thailand. No chemical pesticides are applied in over 50,000 hectares in Indonesia, and yet the crop yields are very high. Driven by its increasingly successful adoption by farmers, Indonesia plans to raise the area under no-pesticides agriculture to half-million hectares by the year 2014. If this can happen in Indonesia, there is no reason why Sabah cannot learn from its success. Sabah can create history by showing a development path that is not only sustainable in the long-run but also brings prosperity and happiness to the masses.

Adopted from:  Selvarajasomiah’s Weblog.

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