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Minister: Modern technologies, approaches vital to attract S’wak youth participation in agriculture

October 26, 2023
Borneo Post
5 mins read

KUCHING (Oct 26): Modern technologies and approaches must be developed to encourage the younger generation in Sarawak to pursue careers in food production and agriculture, said Chang Lih Kang.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said with the Sarawak government’s commitment to transform the state into a net food exporter by 2030, the younger generation holds a vital role in securing the future of Sarawak’s food supply chain.

“This is because they are technologically-savvy and can harness the latest technology to benefit from smart agriculture,” he said at the opening of the 17th Asean Food Conference (AFC) held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) yesterday.

His speech was read by his ministry’s secretary-general Dato Dr Aminuddin Hassim.

Also present were Malaysian Institute of Food Technology and The Federation of Institutes of Food Science and Technology in Asean president Dr Koh Yew Ming, Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau acting chief executive officer and senior director of Corporate Affairs Zain Azrai Rashid, AFC 2023 organising committee chairperson Sharidah Yusoff, and Business Events Sarawak chief executive officer Amelia Roziman.

Chang said Sarawak, a key contributor of many natural resources including natural gas and crude oil, is well on its way to becoming an even more crucial player in Asean’s new economic development.

“With its vast land, expertise capacity and affordable electricity, I believe that the state’s intention of becoming a net food exporter by 2030 can be achieved with great success,” he said.

On the AFC 2023, he said the four-day conference gathers stakeholders from the food industry to explore ‘what’s next’ and to future-proof the food and agriculture supply in Asean and the world at large.

“The economic value of Asean’s food industry is expected to reach US$1,071 billion by 2030 or about 10.7 per cent of the total GDP of Asean, attesting to the significant contribution of this sector to the socio-economic development of this region.

“This underscores the importance of international collaboration in the development and production of food products, ensuring food sustainability and security for our people.

“Thus, I strongly encourage everyone to take this unique opportunity to network and foster new partnerships, working collectively towards a more sustainable future in food,” he said.

He also said that AFC 2023 comes at an opportune moment, providing a platform with the theme ‘Future of Food in Asean: What’s Next?’ to highlight advances and new findings in food science and technology.

“It aims to provide the underpinning science, technology, and innovation (STI) tools, and education to support innovative solutions in food safety and regulatory science, food security and sustainability, Internet of Things (IoT) and digitalisation, halal auditing, accreditation and certification, and technology transfer,” he added.

Chang said the conference offers a platform for prominent experts from distinguished entities to share ideas on the latest research, innovations, new technologies, and developments in the field of Food Science and Technology (FST).

“In this regard, I genuinely hope that the outcomes of these discussions will provide valuable and implementable inputs to key players and policymakers in addressing threats to regional and global supply chain disruptions.

“By fostering networking and linkages between regional and global food scientists and technologists, we can increase the global competitiveness of regional food education, research, and innovation,” he said.

Featuring a comprehensive programme filled with plenary and scientific sessions, poster sessions and more, AFC 2023 highlights topics such as food security and nutrition, sustainable food production and processing, food safety and quality, food innovation, food trade and investment and more.

This year’s conference has attracted a total of 700 participants from Asean countries and other parts of the globe, including scientists, technologists, students and stakeholders from the food and related industries.