Sabah has huge potential for the integration of ruminant farming and oil palm plantations as a strategy to increase the state’s meat supply self-sufficiency level.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan noted that with a vast area of about two million ha of oil palm plantations, the opportunity is there for integration and in turn to reduce the state’s dependency on overseas meat imports.
“Lately, it’s been a challenge for us to increase our self-sufficiency on ruminant meat because of various factors such as the increase of price of ruminant feed due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and global climate change.
“These have affected the production of raw materials for ruminant feed such as soy, maize, and wheat in the producing countries.
“Therefore, we need to think of ways to produce our own meat supply,” he said when officiating at the state level Farm Day here.
He said integrating ruminant farming with plantations is a workable strategy considering that palm kernel cake is one of the sources of food for ruminants as are palm fronds.
Other than oil palm plantations, the Sabah Deputy Chief Minister and Keningau MP, said idle lands can be utilized for growing grass, particularly napier grass, as a food source for ruminants.
Earlier, Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) director Dr Normah Yusop said the self-sufficiency level (SSL) for meat production in Sabah is very low at under 10 per cent.
She said Sabah is still highly dependent on imports from countries such as India and Australia.
However, she said the department has taken steps to increase the level of self-sufficiency by working with government-linked companies to develop the ruminant industry in the state.
Among the strategic plans is to develop the Borneo Dairy Valley through cooperation with the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) and Keningau Livestock Intergrated Centre (KLIC).
Another is working with Sawit Kinabalu on cattle breeding for distribution to smallholders.
Among those present were Assistant Minister of Agriculture and Fishers Datuk James Ratib and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries permanent secretary Robert Stidi.