Saturday, July 16, 2011

RM10m invested in Kota Marudu swiftlet farming

Posted on July 8, 2011, Friday
Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili
KOTA MARUDU: Transformation of the Kota Marudu economy will continue to be driven by the agriculture sector through the adoption and infusion of modern crops and technologies, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

The Kota Marudu member of parliament said that the agriculture activities which would be the focus for Kota Marudu included oil palm, rubber, coconut, corn, vanilla and aquaculture, with new high technology crops and activities such as stevia cultivation and swiftlet farming.

Dr Ongkili added that based on studies by government agencies and the private sector, Kota Marudu had been found to be conducive for swiftlet farming. “Various investors from China have also come in to test the suitability of Kota Marudu to attract swiftlets to nest here. They found that the area is indeed suitable and swiftlet farming has already taken place in Kota Marudu in small and big scales,” he said.

At present, 43 participants from the e-kasih list of hardcore poor are undertaking swiftlet farming in the district to generate income. Each of them was allocated RM10,000 to build a swiftlet house.
Dr Ongkili also said that the Parliamentary Agriculture Development Council meeting which he chaired yesterday, also approved three swiftlet pilot projects for selected cooperatives to carry out in a bigger scale, with an allocation of RM20,000 each. He also said investment in swiftlet farming in Kota Marudu had surpassed the RM10 million mark, largely from the private sector, showing keen interest in the lucrative activity.

The council also discussed the possibility of setting up a processing centre for the bird nests which would assist in marketing the products to overseas market. On the cultivation of Stevia, 15 families from the constituency would be selected for the cultivation using seedlings successfully grown at the Agriculture Department’s nursery in Tuaran.

The 15 pilot farms will form the nursery for Stevia seedlings for Sabah. The initial trials with the Stevia variety were conducted in collaboration with PureCircle of London, the world’s leading producer of refined Stevia products. Stevia is planted as a sugar substitute and is a highly lucrative crop. Dr Ongkili also said that eco-tourism is the second main economic sector for Kota Marudu, particularly with the marine biodiversity of the Marudu Bay.

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