02 November 2001 (Business Times) - There is a big potential for the localfarming community to discover new wealth as Malaysia further develops itsagriculture sector.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today Malaysiacould progress far in its agriculture sector with the advent of newfarming technologies and its gift of bio-diversity.
Malaysia has vast bio-diversity, much of which has yet to befully-explored.
With the advent of bio-technology facilities, we can now tap the wealth ofour bio-diversity with proper research and development activities, he saidwhen opening the annual general meetings of the National Farmers'Association (Nafas) and the Permodalan Peladang Bhd.
Abdullah said a concerted effort was needed to convince the youngergeneration that the agriculture sector has a bright future.
We must make our youths realise that the farming-related industry is alucrative venture.
It is no longer relevant to measure the success of our children with highranking career paths or high-paying jobs, being an officer or aprofessional.
Instead, we must continue to modernise our agriculture sector to convinceour young people that there is both a well-paid career opportunity forthem out there or the potential of generating a wide array of innovativefarming products.
Abdullah also urged farmers to establish smart partnerships with relevantgovernment or private agencies to achieve multiple growth.
Malaysian farmers can achieve greater heights and be at par with theircounterparts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan in terms of success.
The Government is fully behind efforts to improve the livelihood andexpand the potential of our agriculture sector.
Abdullah later witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understandingbetween the Farmers' Organisations Authority and Universiti Putra Malaysiaaimed at sharing of experience and expertise to develop the agriculturesector.
He also presented excellence awards to six children of farmers whoexcelled in their studies at local universities.
Earlier, Nafas chairman Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said theassociation would continue to plan and implement profitable commercialprojects to safeguard its finances from economic uncertainties.
The projects include:
* the RM140 million compound fertiliser manufacturing project withPetronas Fertilizer Kedah Sdn Bhd in Gurun, Kedah in which Nafas holds an80 per cent equity,
* the RM7 million processing of chicken-based products project, in whichNafas holds a 40 per cent equity through subsidiary Nafas T.G. Sdn Bhd.
* an 8,000-hectare farm development project in Indonesia, in which Nafasplans to cultivate 2,000 hectares with oil palm trees in adddition to aprocessing plant in the vicinity.
In terms of development, we are still far behind farmers' movements inJapan, Taiwan and Korea.
In those three countries, the movements, are far-reaching and run byfarmers themselves in terms of management or policy making atorganisational level.
We feel that the only way we can match them is by getting an opportunityto run a financial institution specially-tailored for the agriculturesector.
Last Year, Nafas recorded a net profit of RM9.07 million at group leveland RM2.92 million at organisation level, a fall of 26.7 per cent and 38per cent respectively.
This was due to fines of RM1.8 million being for late delivery of padifertiliser in 1990 and stiff competition in the open market, particularlyin the price of fertiliser and agriculture equipment.