THE Rural and Regional Development Ministry is set to open up retail locations for rural entrepreneurs at Rural Transformation Centres (RTC) around the nation, said Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob.
He said products made in rural areas faced more hurdles when it came to being showcased and marketed, and the introduction of the retail spaces in RTCs would boost the rural industries in the country.
“We want to set up ‘premium outlets’ in each district and state where rural entrepreneurs can sell their products directly or become wholesalers.
“We will start in RTCs and then the ministry will discuss with Mara whether we can use their facilities in districts nationwide to start more outlets.
“For now, we will look for RTCs that have potential. There are some RTCs that are far from major urban centres and it’s best not to start the outlet in those locations.
“We don’t want this to be localised and we want everyone, whether urban or rural, to purchase the products,” he said.
Ismail said, however, there were two things that needed improvement – packaging and marketing. He said rural products had potential and could not be made in other places.
“For example, in Lenggong, you can get pekasam (a variety of preserved fish) and kebebe (a traditional snack). Even I have not heard of kebebe, but I was told it’s a niche product found only here. If we market this by saying it is only made here, it will attract attention. This is how entrepreneurs should think and we don’t want them to be too localised,” he told reporters after closing the Lenggong Rural Entrpreneur Carnival in Lenggong Square.
The carnival was organised to give opportunities for rural entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their products.
The four-day carnival, which started on April 19 saw various entrepreneurs from districts and government agencies setting up stalls to promote their products and services.
On another matter, Ismail said Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) institutions followed the procedures set by the Health Ministry when it came to managing infectious diseases. He was aware of the tubercolosis outbreak in MRSM Taiping and Mara adding that the Health Ministry monitoring the situation.
“The outbreak only happened in Taiping, and other MRSMs in the country are not affected. We were told that the students can mingle with anyone since they are on medication, so no one is quarantined in the boarding school.
“We are waiting for the full report on the matter and the ministry will follow the guidelines set by the Health Ministry,” he told reporters.
On April 19, it was reported that 11 Taiping MRSM students were diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Perak Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said the first case was diagnosed in August last year while the latest was detected on April 4.