ISKANDAR Regional Development Authority (Irda) aims to attract investors and partners to invest in modern farming in the country’s first economic growth corridor.
Its chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said modern farming would be the new sector promoted, joining nine existing ones in Iskandar Malaysia.
The nine are electrical and electronics, petroleum and oleo-chemical, food and agro-processing, logistics, tourism, creative, healthcare, education as well as financial and business processes.
“Early this year, we announced our venture into modern farming in the region and we are excited about it,” Ismail said in a press statement.
He noted that there was a genuine need to improve food security as there was high demand for continuous food supplies for Malaysia and neighbouring Singapore.
With the abundance of land in Johor and the state’s ambition to become a “food bank”, the move to develop modern farming could be realised and achieved.
“All stakeholders, investors and partners have to work together in developing, driving and benefitting from the modern farming initiative,” he said.
In an interview with StarMetro in April this year, Ismail said three locations had been identified — Kulai, Pasir Gudang and Pontian — where modern farming can take place.
He said Irda would work closely with relevant agencies to develop and promote modern agriculture activities in Iskandar Malaysia.
These agencies include the Agriculture Ministry, Johor Agriculture Department and Universiti Putra Malaysia, as well as experts in modern farming sector.
He added that Irda hoped to emulate the success stories of The Netherlands, South Korea and Japan in developing modern agriculture activities.
Separately, Ismail said it was also developing several programmes to build and strengthen human capital resources in the region under its Secure@IskandarMalaysia initiative.
He said specific programmes such as the IM Medical Sector Upskill programme aimed to strengthen workers’ advantages in the healthcare services, while the Community Capacity Building programme helped to boost individuals’ skills and adaptability to various opportunities that may spill over from investments that come into the region.
He highlighted that these ready human capital resources would be beneficial to both domestic and foreign investors who were seeking to quickly get their foot on the ground and start their businesses and operations in the region.
From January to April 2021, RM7.33bil investments were implemented in the region — of which, 20% involved domestic investors and 80% from foreigners.
He said the RM7.33bil investments approved in 2020 by the Malaysia Investment Development Authority were transport equipment, electronics and electrical as well as machinery and equipment from China, Japan and Singapore.
“We continue to attract strong interest from domestic and foreign investors despite operating in a challenging economic situation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ismail.
To date, Iskandar Malaysia has recorded RM341.4bil in total cumulative investments since its inception on Nov 4, 2006 — of which, 61% have been implemented.
Ismail said the 61% amounting to RM209.9bil was led by the manufacturing sector followed by logistics, tourism, creative services and healthcare services.