KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 (Bernama) -- The Ministry of Agriculture andAgro-Based Industries has identified agriculture food production as anengine of economic growth on par with the contribution from the oil palmand rubber sector.
Its minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said that the Ninth Malaysia Plan(9MP) will translate this vision into a strategic planning and action planso that the sector's new role as a generator of economic growth could berealised.
He said that Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), which has the experience andexpertise, would help to develop the sector concerned based on thecore-competency currently available at the university.
"With the existence of the core-competency in UPM, which comes out withgraduates with agriculture knowledge, I am confident that UPM has theexpertise and experience to make the vision of Prime Minister Datuk SeriAbdullah Ahmad Badawi to develop the agriculture food productssuccessful," he said in his keynote address on "UPM AgricultureDirection," at UPM in Serdang, Thursday.
His speech was read by his deputy Datuk Seri Kerk Choo Ting.
Muhyiddin said that cooperation to establish a cluster-based synergy couldalso be worked out, apart from UPM carrying out research and development(R&D) on biotechnology and management to enhance productivity.
He said that UPM, Mardi and the Agriculture Department training centre,are located in a natural area where a cluster-based agriculturebiotechnology could be created.
"We have to be committed in setting up Agropolis, a clustered researchinstitution, higher learning and agriculture skills training as agovernment-academic-agriculture partner in developing the country'sagriculture sector," he said.
He said that UPM could also help to provide graduates who are trained inplant or animal breeding, horticulture, mycology, food technology andagronomy, fields which are getting lesser but yet required by theministry.
In fact, he said that the Agriculture Department needed 1,802 officersspecially trained in the fields concerned.
Muhyiddin said that graduates now preferred to focus on basic research anddid not have much interest in applied research which is more relevant tothe government's effort to develop the agriculture food production.
As such, he said that via the cooperation between UPM and the ministry, anapplied research would be conducted, especially on the development of foodproduct which is suitable for the agro-based industry.
He said that others are research on enzyme extraction and tapioca as wellas in mechanisation and automation, especially in machinery fabrication,food processing equipment and estate management.