Given the govt’s emphasis on the agriculture sector, Wan Zulkiflee is confident that the assistance given will give rise to skilled entrepreneurs
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
STATE energy firm Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) is channelling RM100 million into Bank Pertanian Malaysia Bhd (Agrobank) as part of efforts to boost the agriculture sector by offering financial support to low-income farmers.
Petronas president and group CEO Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin (picture) said the funds will be disbursed over a five-year period and will benefit about 3,000 recipients through financing facilities offered by Agrobank.
The government-owned bank, established in the late 1960s to help finance the agriculture sector, has over 11 micro-financing programmes that support the cultivation of paddy, oil palm, pineapple and dairy products, among others.
Given the administration’s emphasis on the agriculture sector, Wan Zulkiflee is confident that the assistance given to farmers from the bottom 40% (B40) income group will give rise to skilled entrepreneurs.
“This will indirectly hasten the growth of the country’s human resources, technological innovation and productivity in the agriculture sector, which will lead to a holistic development of the economy,” he said ahead of an agreement signed between Petronas and Agrobank in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Petronas has supported small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the oil and gas sector through its vendor development programme (VDP) scheme, whereby 80% of the 4,000 vendors and business partners under the VDP are SMEs.
Also present to witness the signing were Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin and Agrobank covering president and CEO Khadijah Iskandar.
The collaboration allows Agrobank to provide financing facilities of up to 100% from the entire operational costs with a minimal interest rate of 2% per annum, Khadijah said.
Recipients of the fund will have to be at least 18 years of age with a business record of at least six months.
“We hope a lot more youth will respond to the government’s call to venture into agriculture,” she said.
Azmin, in his speech at the event, said the Petronas-Agrobank partnership will incite growth in the agriculture sector that will solidify the country’s food security goals.
Currently, Malaysia’s food import bill stands at an annual average of over RM50 billion.
Meanwhile, Salahuddin said nearly 40% of heads of households within the B40 community in rural areas are involved in the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries.
As such, the capital injection offered by Petronas and Agrobank will directly benefit the B40 group and help them modernise their businesses to generate more income.
“This will not only elevate their socio-economic status, but has great potential to help build the next business empire,” Salahuddin said, citing the successes of Evergreen Livestock Sdn Bhd owner Datuk Yap Yun Fook and Ramly Food Processing Sdn Bhd founder Datuk Ramly Mokni and wife Datuk Shala Siah Abdul Manap.