TENOM: The agricultural sector in this state can be empowered through the cooperation of agricultural associations such as the Sabah Durian And Tropical Fruit Growers Association (MaSDa) for better quality crops in the domestic and foreign markets.
Sabah State Minister of Community Development and People’s Well-being, Datuk James Ratib said, the association is made up of members who have been successful in the field of agriculture and are able to contribute ideas towards further strengthening the field of agriculture in the state of Sabah.
“In my previous experience as Assistant Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of the State of Sabah, I saw some agricultural projects designed by the department with unsatisfactory results.
“Therefore, I am confident that the expertise of the members of the MaSDa association can contribute to a variety of better quality agricultural techniques,” he said.
James, who is also a lifelong member of the MaSDa Association, explained that members of the association have shown proud success, particularly in the cultivation of local fruits such as durian and avocado.
Therefore, he will suggest to the Minister in charge of the agriculture sector that MaSDa be used as an intermediary to help farmers and develop agricultural knowledge capable of producing higher quality fruit products.
“The expertise of the members of the association can be used by the Department of Agriculture to conduct courses and practical agricultural training.
“At the same time, the government can make financial savings because each successful course does not require high costs because the members of the association have their own farm area to undergo practical training,” he said.
James who is also Sugut Assemblyman said this when officiating the 4th General Meeting of MaSDa which took place at Naluyan Jungle Lodge, Tenom, near here on Saturday.
In the meantime, he also hoped that the Ministry of Agriculture would hire some members of the association to be appointed as Sabah State Agricultural Advisors especially to carry out agricultural projects designed by the government.
He explained that some of the previous agricultural project failures could be overcome by hiring individuals who have really proven success in the field of agriculture as one of the advisory panels.
“The time has come for members of the MaSDa association to join the agricultural advisory council which at the same time acts as an intermediary to advance the agricultural projects planned by the government. They have achieved success and have proven success in the agriculture carried out,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Community Development and People’s Welfare through the Sabah Women’s Affairs Department (JHEWA) and the Sabah Community Services Council (MPMS) will also organize several courses related to agriculture and MaSDa members will be appointed as facilitators in the program later.
“The two agencies will cover the cost of organizing the course so that more Sabahans can get agricultural knowledge that can improve their own and family’s economy in the future,” he added.
MaSDa currently has a total of 141 members consisting of fruit farm operators who successfully produce various products including durian and high quality avocados from several districts in the state of Sabah.
Also present in the program were Walter Kenson, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development and People’s Welfare, Duan Evans, Chairman of MaSDa Association and Iannis Irfan Dhil Akhbar, Secretary General of MaSDa.