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 Local

Stringent checks needed on plants smuggling

14th September, 2017

By ROZZALIN HASHIM

SANDAKAN: The authorities are worried that plants and seedlings smuggling into the State may get out of hand if stringent checks are not put in place.

State Agriculture Department director Idrus Shafie said that smugglers are using all sorts of tactics to bring imported plants that can be detrimental to local plants and crops.

“We have detected such smuggling and most of them are using the courier service to bring in the plants,” he told reporters after attending the closing of a Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) seminar here yesterday.

“We estimated that 80 per cent of such smuggling was done through the courier service and was detected at the counter.

“We have tightened the entry points to check on individuals and parcels to ensure that they do not bring any plants,” he said.

According to him, the department was taking preventive measures against crop diseases so that they would not affect the crops.

He also said that the department has drawn up long-term plans to see that Sabah would not have insufficient food crops.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Zakaria Haji Mohd Edris said farmers in Sabah need to adopt GAP to keep their increasingly discerning customers and stay competitive.

“Getting GAP certification is proof that your farm adopts practices that do not harm the environment, and produces safe products,” he said.

More than 450 farmers from here, Kinabatangan, Tongod and Telupid took part in the seminar organized by the Sandakan Agriculture Department.

Zakaria said farmers in Sandakan and the surrounding districts can widen their market because they are known not only for oil palm cultivation but also fruits, vegetables and a number of other cash crops.

Agriculture Department data reveals that in 2015 in Sandakan alone, there 2343 2,704 hectares of land cultivated with fruits, vegetables, coconuts and other cash drops, and many of these farms have benefited when they were certified under the department’s myGAP initiative.

He revealed that a dragon fruit orchard in Beluran has been certified under myGAP while four other farms, totaling 87 hectares with 13 farmers are being guided towards myGAP certification this year.

“These farmers are grateful for the myGAP initiatives because they now low forward to proper farming techniques, consider safety issues and generally produce better yield,” said Zakaria. ‘I urge all farmers to consider GAP because that’s the future of the market and the whole world is practicing it.”

Zakaria said GAP has been actively promoted since three years ago when the Agriculture Department took the initiative.

“Sandakan started early because this district is known for oil palm, and it is a mainstay of Sandakan’s economy,” he said. “but we also possess the potential in producing fruits on a large scale, also rise (in Terusan Sapi, Beluran), therefore safety as defined under GAP is important to us.”

   
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