by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by TMR FILE
THE Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (MAFI) yesterday introduced the first online platform, eAGRO for agricultural inputs (agri-inputs) in Malaysia.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee (picture) said eAGRO aims to be the trusted platform to ensure smallholders connect with merchants and agri-input producers, while offering quality products at affordable prices.
He added that the platform was also created to assist smallholders by increasing the effective delivery of agri-inputs, while promoting price transparency between smallholders, merchants and agri-input producers.
“A platform like eAGRO is in line with key strategies in expanding technological adaptation in food systems as a pragmatic measure to increase the efficiency and productivity of systems based on economies of scale and sustainable agriculture.
“The ministry is also actively expanding and strengthening the marketing of agricultural products, especially through e-commerce platforms that have been identified and are appropriate to enhance the marketability and availability of agricultural products for the domestic market and the international market.
“This not only reflects the sign of our times but also how technological advancement is so important for the agriculture industry to move forward,” the minister said after officiating the launch of eAGRO at Universiti Putra Malaysia yesterday.
Among the agri-inputs that can be found on the eAGRO platform include seed packs, seedlings, fertilisers, antibiotics, livestock vaccines, animal feeds, fish feed and agricultural equipment.
While the platform enables smallholders to place their orders by browsing through a selection of agri-input products on the platform, they would also have the option of either having the products delivered to their doorstep or picking up the products at the nearest local store after placing their orders online.
Ronald noted that the initiative also contributes as one of the many solutions we need to improve food security in the country.
He also applauded the efforts by eAGRO in assisting smallholders and not leaving any party within the value chain behind.
Apart from offering a wide selection of agri-input products, eAGRO also strives to facilitate the sharing of reliable information with smallholders, such as providing fertiliser analysis services through the platform.
This enables smallholders to receive accurate information on the nutrient content of specific fertilisers.
Meanwhile, eAGRO executive chairman Datuk Seri Syed Razlan Syed Putra Jamalullail said eAGRO aims to leverage technology to bring together all players within the agricultural input space, connecting smallholders nationwide with merchants and producers of various agri-input offerings.
He said this is important to increase accessibility of quality agri-inputs to smallholders in order to boost their production yield, which in turn would be beneficial to the nation.
“We must keep in mind that it is the smallholders that are growing crops that would end up on our tables, but who don’t necessarily have the accessibility to quality products and equipment to increase the productivity of their crops.
“We want to connect these smallholders — who are essentially the backbone of the agriculture industry in Malaysia — with merchants and retailers through the platform so that quality products and equipment can be made available to them.
“This would inevitably increase the economic conditions of smallholders as well,” he noted.
As such, Syed Razlan said the platform is looking forward to including all players within the agricultural input space and creating a community that is strong and reliable.
eAGRO members have a few payment options to choose from and smallholders who sign up as members of the platform would be able to enjoy 2% cashback for outright purchases.
Additionally, members will also have the option of interest-free installment payments for purchases above a certain threshold.
CIMB Bank Bhd cardholders are eligible for a six-month interest-free instalment payment with a minimum purchase of RM600 and a 12-month interest-free instalment for a minimum purchase of RM1,200.
eAGRO hopes to collaborate with more financial institutions in the future for the benefit of smallholders.