KUCHING: Sarawak is taking the first step to become a major force in durian production by training 10 officers of Department of Agriculture to become durian experts.
We have no durian expert at the moment, this is our first step by training our officers from throughout Sarawak to learn from the experts, said Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah yesterday.
Uggah said the trainers were specially flown in from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), namely, Associate Professor Dr Yahya Awang, Associate Professor Dr Siti Hajar Ahmad, Associate Professor Dr Khairulazmi Ahmad and Mohd Ghazali Mohd Satar.
Apart from the 10 officers, the ministry is also sending five specialists, 22 extension staff and seven teaching staff to attend the training, which will cover, among others, introduction of durian clone, durian biology, propagation and nursery management, land preparation and planting, fertilisation and watering, pruning, pest management and post harvesting handling.
This is the first programme; how to groom them to become durian experts for our durian industry, Uggah said.
After the five-day introduction course, the programme would be followed up with training of the trainers.
Uggah said these officers would be directly involved with Sarawak durian rehabilitation programme, using a budget of RM9 million.
The rehabilitation programme is conducted together with Top Fruits Sdn Bhd of Johor that has 30 years’ experience in durian farming, he added.
Uggah said the rehabilitation pilot project would involve some 300,000 durian trees throughout Sarawak, focusing on Serian, Betong, Limbang and Baram.
That (300,000 trees) is our rough estimate, and if we can increase the productivity and quality of the durian fruits, Sarawak will be a major force in the durian industry, he said.
When asked how long it would take for the plan to materialise, Uggah said it would depend very much on the progress of rehabilitation of the durian trees, which is about five years.
Source: SARAWAK GOVERNMENT