KUCHING (May 23): The state modernisation of agriculture, native land and regional development ministry has proposed an improved model to accelerate native customary rights (NCR) land development.

Its Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the model would be about leasing such land based on a fixed monthly rental per hectare agreed between the landowner and the investor.

“Under this arrangement, payment of the rental will commence from the first year of planting and continue over a lease period of 60 years.

“This model will ensure immediate, consistent and sustainable returns to the landowners,” he said in his winding-up speech at the 18th state legislative assembly here yesterday.

However, he said, a critical component of the model would be the quantum of rental acceptable to both parties.

Uggah said the leasing model would be an alternative to complement the existing joint-venture module.

On another issue, Uggah who is also a deputy chief minister, said the state government had proposed to set up the Sarawak Agriculture Products Export Corp to help in the marketing and sale of agricultural products.

He said marketing posed a major hurdle for agro-food producers. “Our domestic market is small so we have to look to export markets to enable the sector to grow.

“To ensure that our agricultural products can find ready markets both locally and abroad, there is a need to organise and facilitate the marketing process along the whole supply chain, starting from production to post-harvest handling, processing, packaging and marketing,” he said.

He added that the export market had very stringent standards for product quality, packaging and labelling that must be complied with.

“Different markets will be expected to have their own specific requirements, for instance, the sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, to protect their local industry. Access to them may also be subjected to non-tariff barriers imposed by the importing company,” he said.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on May 23, 2017.

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