Liew, Yap and others give the thumbs-up to freshly-harvested red tilapia from the fish pond.

KENINGAU: The Eco-Yap Agriculture and Livestock Farm at Kg Bomboi here has great potential to be an agro tourism destination.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew made the observation after a one-day visit to the Eco Dairy Farm at the invitation of Datuk Yap Yun Fook who is Managing Director of Yun Fook Resources Sdn Bhd on Friday.

“This award-winning farm has what it takes to be considered for agro tourism. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) will be studying its feasibility,” she said.

Agro tourism, also known as farm stay, is defined as any agricultural activity that brings visitors to a farm for educational purposes or practical experience.

Liew, who was accompanied by her Permanent Secretary Dr Jamili Nais and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) General Manager, Noredah Othman, was taken on a guided tour of the farm which spans an area of 150 hectares and accommodates as many as 6,000 heads of cattle, 93pc of which are female calves. Cow milking takes place twice a day, involving more than 1,000 dairy cows with a daily collection of about 10,000 litres of milk.

Liew, accompanied by Yap, taking a close look at a pineapple plant. Note the Napier grass at left, background.

They later visited the fish farm where a variety of freshwater fish are reared in 101 ponds, such as red tilapia, black tilapia, empuria (a fish native to Borneo), baung (catfish), pelian (mahseer) and kali (snaketooth fish). Its supply caters mainly to the domestic market locally.

The Minister and her entourage also toured the swiftlet, goat, deer and crocodile farms, apart from taking a look at Yap’s pineapple cultivation which has more than one million plants, the fruit nursery and organic vegetable farming. Bird’s nests are harvested once a month.

Speaking to reporters, Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, said the objective of her visit was to identify some of the products at the eco farm that have the potential to be included and promoted as agro tourism.

She described Yap as a successful dairy farmer and an entrepreneurial person who has diversified his livestock industry and branched out into agricultural activities, growing oil-palm and rice as well as a variety of fruits such as durian, pineapple, passion fruit and jackfruit.

“With almost 40 years of experience, and given the large extent of his operations, (Datuk) Yap is a role model and has been rated as the most successful dairy farmer in Malaysia. We are proud of a Sabahan’s achievement through sheer hard work and perseverance.

“In fact, he has been appointed as Adviser to the State Government in the field of agriculture and food industry,” she said.

His string of accolades includes the Malaysia Agro Excellence Award (2016) and Agrobank Agropreneur Award (2017).

Sharing his success story, Yap said he started off humbly with only two heads of dairy cattle in 1982, and today he owns a flock of more than 6,000 heads of dairy and meat cattle. His milk factory in Lok Kawi has a production capacity of 450,000 to 500,000 litres of fresh milk per month, of which 30pc of the supply is shipped to the Peninsula in chill containers.

Over the last three decades, Yap, who is also a permanent member of the National Agriculture Advisory Council, ventured into agricultural activities and fish farming. His pasture (grass production) has expanded from 36 metric tons per hectare in 1982 to more than 600 metric tons per hectare currently. Napier grass is highly nutritious for dairy cows and elephants alike.

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