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   Belaga settlers venture into gaharu, swiftlet farming.

BELAGA: Settlers from Lepo’ Badeng Sungai Koyan in Belaga, Kapit yesterday ventured into a high potential agriculture namely the cultivation of gaharu or agarwood and swiftlet farming.

Badeng community through Syarikat Baro Brothers Enterprise signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mikuni Biotech & Life Science (M) Sdn Bhd (MBL), a subsidiary of Mikuni (M) Sdn Bhd to develop the high potential agricultural system as part of poverty eradication programme for the community in Sungai Asap.

Signing on behalf of the community was community leader Penghulu Nyurang Ului while Mikuni Biotech and Life Science was represented by its director Nishikawa Kazuhiko.

“The programme is part of our company corporate social responsibility (CSR) to empower community and Belaga district with the means to be involved and improve their socio-economic development which had been affected due to construction of Bakun dam project,” Kazuhiko told The Borneo Post after the ceremony.

Through the programme it is hoped that settlers and Belaga in general will be economically independent through the natural resources such as agarwood and swiftlets, Kazuhiko added.

Kazuhiko disclosed that Mikuni Biotech & Life Science will be providing technologies and knowledge to the community to make traditional gaharu or agarwood plantation internationally acceptable by controlling quality of wood and products.

It is important that international traders make commitment for long-term basis with more controlled quality of woods.

“The programme is also to develop and export new agarwood-elated products including seed and sidling export from the state of Sarawak in more organised way.

“Through research and development, we are hoping to develop other new ethnic products (herbal medicine) acceptable to international market,” said Kazuhiko.

The company will support swiftlet farming or industries by providing basic information and ‘music’ box to invite swiftlets to the house.

The programme or the system, Kazuhiko said will be able to generate income from the bird’s nest export to the international market.

Similar swiftlet project is now being promoted in Mukah by Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).

Similar method will be applied by the company for another product to generate income to the Belaga district and community.

“By realising all these, we will continue to support Belaga district and its community in economical manner (not political) by receiving full support from University Putra Malaysia (UPM) Bintulu Campus, so that they can contribute and play direct and active role in socio-economic development of their own community and Belaga in general,” he added.

Kazuhiko believed and was confident that Belaga district could create own influence to Sarawak and the community economic development through cultivation of agarwood and swiftlet farming.

Settler Okang Lepun when asked for comment on the programme said: “I believe that they (agarwood and swiftlet) will be able to improve our economic stand.

“Some of us have been collecting agarwood from the jungle before. The production is only in small scale and not lucrative enough as we don’t know and don’t have the technology.”

According to Okang, they have been traditionally collecting agarwood from the area.

However, the activity has been almost put to a stop or reduced following the clearing of the jungles in giving way to the construction of Bakun dam.

Okang believed that other settlers from other resettlement in Belaga would also be interested in the cultivation of agarwood and swiftlet farming. BP