Full review of agro-food policy by next month

We will be more specific on this policy on Feb 14. So just wait (for the elaboration), says Salahuddin

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE full revision of the National Agro-Food Policy (NAFP) 2011-2020, which is expected to rectify past shortcomings including the National Feedlot Corp (NFC) project, will be deliberated by the middle of next month.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said the policy review will be based on five pillars including modernise and increase agriculture output; boost private sector investment; increase export trade; and reduce national food prices especially on paddy, ruminant, and fishery subsectors.

Salahuddin said the ministry also aims to support modern agriculture and strengthen the organisational structure of departments and agencies that fall under his jurisdiction, as part of the delivery and administrative system improvisation.

“All of these were briefed yesterday and we will be more specific on this policy on Feb 14. So just wait (for the elaboration),” he told the press after announcing the appointment of the National Farmers Organisation’s (Nafas) new board of directors in Petaling Jaya, Selangor yesterday.

The revision and the brief were also included in Salahuddin’s speech at a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture’s staff in Putrajaya yesterday.

He said the new NAFP directions and strategy will also focus on three dimensions of agro-food sector, namely the national food safety, rural economic development, and private sector investment and trade.

The focus of the previous NAFP under the Barisan Nasional (BN) rule, was mainly on ensuring adequate food supply and food safety; developing the agro-food industry into a competitive and sustainability industry; and increasing the income level of agricultural entrepreneurs.

The NFC scandal, exposed in 2011, was an agro-based initiative run by National Feedlot Corp Sdn Bhd (NFCorp), a private firm owned by Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail, the husband of former Umno Wanita chief Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

NFCorp was awarded a tender to operate the RM74 million National Feedlot Centre in Gemas, Negri Sembilan, in 2006, and was empowered to improve the country’s beef self-sufficiency level to about 40% of total local production.

The Finance Ministry allocated a RM13 million grant for the project and approved a soft loan amounting to RM250 million for NFCorp to operate the centre.

In 2014, Mohamad Salleh was charged with criminal breach of trust for misappropriating funds. He was acquitted a year later and the livestock project has been left hanging ever since.