Govt to release blueprint on herbal industry by year-end

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MoA) is expected to publish the National Blueprint and National Strategic Agenda for the Herbal Industry by the end of the year.

Its Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said the plan — to be spearheaded with a strategic partner, the Ministry of Health — is expected to realise the potential of the herbal industry.

“We want our industry players to go big, especially to export their products internationally in the future.

“This is among the highest priority which is part of our agenda and its objectives,” he said at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Bioalpha Holdings Bhd and Jinrui Fortune Holding Group in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Salahuddin added that the government is currently working to increase the value of local herbal produc ts through intensive research and development, and clinical trials.

“This is to meet the global demand for reliable alternative medicines under the MoA’s herbal development office, which is called the Entry Point Project 1 (EPP1), that will be integrated into the strategic agenda,” he said.

Salahuddin said among the EPP1’s main objectives is to explore new sources of income for the country.

“Under this programme, 11 herbal products that have entered the clinical trials would be registered as botanical drugs.

“This will further enhance the products’ value, drive the market penetration and expansion, as well as providing a secure resolution to the high-risk diseases’ escalation, namely diabetes and cancer,” he added.

Salahuddin also said the industry is currently one of the country’s biggest economic prospects due to its fast-growing market over the past few years.

“This is highly due to Malaysia having one of the largest biodiversity in medicinal plants with over 1,300 species,” the minister said.

According to the World Health Organisation, the global herbal medicine market was valued at US$71.19 billion (RM296.02 billion) in 2016 and is expected to reach US$5 trillion in 2050.

Meanwhile, Salahuddin hopes that the government would maintain its budget allocation for MoA, especially in food security.

“The allocation for MoA is considered as an investment to the nation,” he said, adding that this is among the ways for the government to heighten food security and nurture the local herbal industry.

Currently, the allocation for agriculture stands at RM6.5 billion, out of which RM2.3 billion is being used as incentives for the purchase of fertiliser and production input for fishermen, rubber smallholders and farmers.