The government should set up an animal feed plant for chicken in Sabah, and not in Gebeng, Pahang, to enable the state export animal feed to Peninsular Malaysia and to Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Areas (BIMP-EAGA), says its Chairman Datuk Roselan Johar Mohamed.
In welcoming the idea, Roselan said the proposed plant would have numerous advantages.
"Too many statements being made to abolish the cabotage policy. Some of these comments are so critical.
"Sabah very badly needs a manufacturing industry that can produce exports to Peninsular and the BIMP-EAGA regions. This feed-mill plant can produce 20,000 tonnes of animal feed (or more, if need be).
"They can be exported out of Sabah in containers to either Kuantan or Port Klang and the rest to the BIMP-EAGA regions," he said in statement.
Roselan was responding to a statement by Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob that an animal-feed for chicken plant would be set up in Gebeng, Kuantan, Pahang, next year as an effort to reduce Malaysia's dependency on imported chicken feed.
However, Roselan, who is also Sabah Bumiputera Chamber of Commerce Treasurer, opined that the proposed chicken-feed plant should be put on hold until both the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Sabah Ministry of Agriculture discuss a possible joint-venture in setting up a similar factory in Sabah.
He said Sabah's monthly imports averaged about 10,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) per month or about 120,000 TEUs per year but the state hardly exported 1,000 TEUs per month. Such trade-imbalance can result in higher freight rates for Sabah imports due to the return of empty containers, thus incurring costs.
Therefore, Roselan said it was not surprising to see many trade associations screaming at the higher costs of doing business in Sabah and the relocation of the feed-mill plant from Gebeng to Sabah would really help the situation and reduce freight costs.
"I sincerely hope that this request for a joint venture between the Federal and State Ministries of Agriculture would be blessed by all concerned for the good of the nation.
"Furthermore, it will help to develop other spin-offs effects like further investment in corn development for use in the feed-mill process.
No land shall be barren if worked upon. This feed-mill plant is the answer," he added.
He said a Philippine research centre in Davao had discovered a hybrid corn that could produce good quality corn for animal feed in 92 days and due to the discovery, three cropping or harvesting a year was possible on the same plot of land.
Roselan said the discovery of the said hybrid and the growth of corn as well as the setting up of a feed-mill plant in Sabah can generate a symbiotic relationship.
"My counterpart in Palawan is fully supportive of this idea, simply because Palawan farmers will jointly help to grow more corn for exports to Kudat through the proposed roro ferry that is due to start its inaugural sail before the end of next year.
"Between Kudat and Palawan, we will import their dried corn and re-export animal feed.
This is a good and balanced two-way traffic," he added.