KUALA LUMPUR: A total of RM90 million has been allocated through the 2016 budget to produce more agro-based entrepreneurs among the younger generation, said UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar.
He said to realise the goal, UMNO Youth will play a role in selecting those who really deserved to receive an allocation of between RM15,000 and RM30,000 in each constituency.
“So we will identify all those in the constituency consisting of young entrepreneurs, agropreneurs, who will receive grants to develop their farming business.
“The selection (process) is beginning, we will select those who are already engaged in farming with small grants of up to RM30,000, so it can propel their business and increase their profit,” he told reporters after attending a town hall meeting with members of the UMNO Overseas Club.
The session was held in conjunction with the Young Agropreneur Symposium themed “Food Sovereignty is the Base of the Country’s Strength” at the Putra World Trade Centre here, today.
The symposium, which was organised by UMNO Youth through the Agro Youth Bureau, was also attended by UMNO Overseas Club chairman and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
Khairy, who is also the Minister of Youth and Sports said, that what mattered was the continuous monitoring of those who successfully received the grants, instead of just meeting the key performance indicators (KPI).
“Anyone can achieve the KPI by spending the RM90 million. But what is important is the sustainability of businesses that have been assisted with this provision.
“The extent to which these grants can help them … that is why the selection should only be for those who truly deserve it, and not those whom we know, and not to those who are not directly involved in the agriculture and
agro-based sector,” he said.
He said the success and effectiveness of the programme could only be measured by the existence of more entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, Khairy in his speech, said that the mentality that agriculture was dirty work needed to be changed, because the sector could be lucrative, and at the same time help the government reduce its dependency on food imports.
“In terms of food security, of course we rely too much on foreign imports. For example, (if there is) flooding in Thailand, will we be affected? We are importing vegetables from Thailand.
“In simple economics, when flooding occurs in Thailand, they will reduce exports and we will be affected because of the lack of vegetable supply, and when vegetables are scarce and demand increases, it will make the vegetables expensive and people will be upset at the government, when in actuality the import price has gone up,” he said.
The Rembau MP said the agricultural sector was synonymous with the Malays, and that they should continue to dominate it.
“When the agriculture and agro-based industry is not in our hands, I believe, a great opportunity will be lost from us. That is why we want to see young people getting involved in the agriculture and agro-based sector
“At the same time, we will become contributors to the country’s food security whereby the country will not need to import food, and what happens is that we will feel safe (from reduction in food supply), as well as be able to regulate the price and supply of the food,” he said.- BERNAMA