A very good morning to all of you and thank you very much for your kind attendance this morning especially to our guests His Excellency, Mr. Obata Masahiro, The Consul-General of Japan for Sabah, Mr. Michio Hirose, the Secretary General of OISCA-International and Ms. Michiko Takahashi, Senior Assistant Director, OISCA-International, Who came all the way from Tokyo, Japan to be with us today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very grateful to OISCA-International, Japan for having kindly agreed to renew the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) i.e. between the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry Sabah and OISCA-International, Japan for another 3 years (November 2005-2008). Indeed, since 1988, Sabah have benefited a lot from the many programs and activities carried out by OISCA-International, Japan in collaborating with my Ministry through Korporasi Pembangunan Desa (KPD). Among them are as follows:
1. Establishment of the KPD-OISCA Rural Youths Training Centre at Lagud Sebrang, Tenom, which provides agricultural training to 60 rural youths every year.
2. Granted scholarship annually to selected KPD-OISCA trainess for further technical training at OISCA training centers in Japan.
3. JICA and OISCA provided financial assistance to finance the construction of lecture hall, hostel, processing centre building, purchase of vehicles, machineries and equipment for the KPD-OISCA Training Centre at Lagud Sebrang, Tenom.
4. Provides expertise ini agriculture technologies and food processing; and
5. Through OISCA-International, private sectors and individuals from Japan have provided funding for the many Children Forest Program/ Community Forest Program (CFP) carried out in Sabah.
I appreciate very much the cooperation and the numerous assistance provided by Japan through JICA and OISCA-International especially in the field of agriculture. Such cooperation and assistance is indeed timely especially now that Sabah is seriously focusing on developing, expanding and modernizing agriculture in the state in line with the new Halatuju. The KPD-OISCA Training Centre in Tenom provides beneficial agricultural and human development training for rural youths especially those who dropped out of schools, unemployed and do not have the opportunity/could not afford to go to other training institutions. After completing their one-year intensive training at the KPD-OISCA training center, these youths would return to their respective villages, develop their own land and become self-employed; some of them would easily find employment in other related sectors. Thus, the KPD-OISCA training program definitely helps the State in reducing the unemployment problem in rural areas and also reducing the problem of rural-urban migration.
I understand that the new long term vision of KPD will focus on developing commercial agriculture and quality products to enable it to compete successfully in the global market. However, presently, KPD does not have sufficient manpower who are trained in commercial agriculture. Thus, I would suggest that the training program at the KPD-OISCA training center be reviewed and refocus its attention on training commercially-oriented and productive young farmers (rural youths) who can produce quality products acceptable to the global market. These trained young farmers may also be encouraged to participate in KPD’s contract-farming program to enable them obtain funding and secure markets for their produce locally and globally.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I hope that with the signing of the MOU this morning i.e. between my Ministry and OISCA-International Japan, the existing programs and activities carried out together by KPD and OISCA could be expanded further. KPD and OISCA should also seek new areas of cooperation for mutual benefit.
I am glad that the establishment OISCA in Sabah (since 1977) has also helped in promoting and strengthening the spirit of cooperation and friendship between the people of Japan and Sabah, Malaysia. I also hope that through OISCA-International, we can also promote Sabah as an excellent tourists destination not only for tourist from Japan but also from other parts of the world.
Before I conclude, may I wish our OISCA counterparts from Japan a pleasant stay in Sabah and please come again.
Thank you very much, arigato gazaimas.