SERDANG, Aug 6 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today announced an additional RM200 million for a low-cost financing scheme aimed to increase the country’s food output.
With the RM200 million top-up to the current allocation of RM800 million under the Keluarga Malaysia Agrofood Financing Fund (DPAKM), the local agro-food farming community will be able to tap into funds worth RM1 billion.
“In order to increase the country's food production, Mafi through Agrobank has allocated as much as RM800 million to the agricultural community under the DPAKM.
“Following the overwhelming response, the government agreed to add another RM 200 million in low-cost financing funds to make it RM 1 billion for the benefit of our entire agro-food farming community,” Ismail Sabri said in his speech while launching the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism 2022 exhibition here this morning.
Mafi is the acronym for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries.
In his speech, Ismail Sabri also called on the ministry to continue a “jihad” against middlemen whom he blamed for the current steep prices of goods in the country.
While the Arabic term is usually used in violent combat, its use by Muslims generally means exerted efforts.
Ismail Sabri said it is important for the government to go all out against these intermediaries who disrupt price controls so as to ensure stability in food supply at affordable means to consumers.
“I once declared a ‘jihad against middlemen’ in 2014 when I headed the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry because of the actions of middlemen who exploit farmers and fishermen by manipulating prices in the market.
“This jihad needs to be continued by Mafi through a supply chain control strategy in collaboration with the agencies under it such as establishing a paddy buying centre, a fruit collection center, the addition of a farmer's market and a fisherman's market,” he said.
Ismail Sabri said the government takes a serious view of food security in the country and had made the agro-food sector a priority in the 12th Malaysia Plan.
He added that the agro-food sector is expected to grow at a rate of 4.5 percent per year, making it a major economic contributor.
“We need to move in line with the latest trends that emphasize food safety, food supply assurance, nutrition and also durability in the country's food system,” he said.
As part of a measure to strengthen the national food security system, Ismail Sabri said the government through MAFI will introduce the Agrofood Takaful Insurance Scheme involving the entire agrofood sector.
For starters, the paddy and rice sub-sector has been selected as a pilot project of the Ministry that will benefit a total of 189,500 rice farmers before being expanded in stages to other sectors such as fisheries, crops and other sub-sectors of the food industry.
“This scheme aims to reduce the financial implications of crop loss following natural disasters such as floods and droughts as well as disease outbreaks.
“The rice farmers will be ensured to receive commensurate damages or compensation in the event of disruptions to the country's rice production productivity such as natural disasters or disease outbreaks,” he said.