Oil palm estates and smallholders in Sarawak are encouraged to take up cattle-rearing on the side to sustain their income and help the state increase its beef production. (NSTP Archive)

SERIAN: Oil palm estates and smallholders in Sarawak are encouraged to take up cattle-rearing on the side to sustain their income and help the state increase its beef production.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said about 40 per cent of the estimated 1.5 million hectares of oil palm land in the state have been found to be suitable for cattle-rearing.

“(If implemented) we can rear up to 120,000 heads (at a stocking rate of one animal per five hectares of land).

"So, I urged the estates and individual smallholders to grab this opportunity and support Sarawak in increasing its 50 per cent Self Sufficiency Level (SSL) in beef by 2030,” he said.

Uggah said this at the handing over of 81 head of breeder cattle to the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) Melikin oil palm estate near here on Saturday.

The livestock were part of the herd of 640 including 15 bulls imported from Australia last month.

Uggah said the state government is committed to assist breeders by providing cattle on loan under its Cattle Pawah Programme (CPP).

Under the programme, breeder cattle would be distributed to the participating estates and small holders who would pay back to the government the matching numbers within a period of up to six years.

The returned animals would then be redistributed to other estates or individuals to ensure the circle would continue and benefit more people, he said.

To-date, a total of 44 estates and 14 smallholders were supported by the programme, involving a total of 10,816 heifers and 695 bulls, he added.

Uggah, who is also the Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister and SALCRA chairman said rearing cattle in estates would contribute to the reduction of weeding cost by RM100 per hectare each year as well as minimising the use of chemicals.

Meanwhile, a total 10 oil palm plantations - covering a total area of 10,000 hectares and rearing 2,310 heads of Australian Brahman cattle - have been targetted for the programme by 2023.

“We aim to produce 1,000 head of calves annually, by 2021. We are now focussing on cattle rearing in estates on semi-intensive concept with breeding centres, feedlots and field lots." he said.

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