KOTA KINABALU: The public must get the necessary approvals and documentation before bringing in plants or produce from overseas or face a fine or risk them being confiscated.
Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Junz Wong said such measures were put in place to protect local agriculture as well as the flora and fauna as agriculture played a huge role in the state’s economy.
He said this in response to queries by various quarters on why some fruits and plants brought in from China were seized at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport recently.
“The movement of plants, plant products or agriculture related items should follow quarantine procedures,” he added.
The importation or movement of any plants, plant products and agriculture-regulated items either from peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, Labuan and abroad was permitted, but one must apply an Import Permit (IP) from the Department of Agriculture Sabah beforehand.
The Plant Biosecurity and Quarantine will then do the necessary inspection upon arrival at the entry points.
“Please cooperate with our quarantine inspectors and respect their duty to safeguard the future of our agriculture industry as well as our nature.
“Get advice and accurate information from the relevant authorities,” added Wong.
He said cocoa was considered a golden crop in the past but farms in Sabah dwindled from over 400,000ha to just over 5,500 ha.
“This was due to infestation of pests and diseases such as Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) believed to have been brought into Sabah sometime around 1983,” he said.
CPB is caused by conopormopha cramerella, a type of moth larvae that feeds on cocoa seeds.
Wong said another case he recalled was on the limau manis Beaufort, once famous back in 1980s but was no longer available.
This was due to a bacterial infestation in 1989.
It was believed to have been spread through an infested citrus plant suspected to have been smuggled from China.
“We should learn from past experiences and take precautionary measures to protect our agriculture industry as well as our rich biodiversity of flora and fauna,” said Wong.
He added that Sabah’s padi was also not spared from pest attacks and diseases due to foreign factors.