KUALA LUMPUR: Agriculture, the biggest beneficiary of the recently announced economic stimulus package, expects to boost the income of the countrys farmers and fishermen to as much as RM7,000 a month.
Generally, the RM2.97bil package is expected to double their monthly takings and to promote at least 10 winning products to jump-start a national branding exercise for both the home and world markets.
Agriculture Minister Datuk Mohd Effendi Norwawi named projects in the crop, livestock and fisheries sectors as the focus of the package, which is about 23% of the RM7.3bil allocated to boost the economy and mitigate the impact of the war in Iraq and the SARS outbreak.
He said RM1.27bil would be used for programmes which include a new entrepreneurs fund for brand names, micro credits, small and medium-scale industries (SMIs), delivery systems and infrastructure development.
Besides this, RM1.7bil, which has been allocated to Bank Pertanian, would also be used under a food fund for entrepreneurs to borrow up to RM5mil for their projects.
This allocation (of RM2.97bil) will generate RM5bil of output and will benefit 400,000 farmers, fishermen, livestock farmers and smallholders, he told reporters at a press briefing on the package here yesterday.
Effendi said the ministry would only have about a year to execute the programmes and those who stood to gain included women entrepreneurs.
But we will only give out allocations to those who practise modern farming or fishing techniques.
Effendi said the Agriculture Department would, for instance, introduce projects like satellite farms and permanent food crop parks for farmers to generate income of more than RM3,000 a month.
For the fishing community, artificial reefs will be built to harvest fish while new vessels and equipment to help them improve their fishing techniques and increase their catches (would be made available), he said, adding that they would also be encouraged to leverage unused ponds for aquaculture.
He said farmers were encouraged to offer their unused land for projects, adding that the funds would be channelled directly to them.
On the national branding exercise, Effendi said the Fama programme was expected to benefit from products supplied by some 1,500 registered SMIs.
Through direct marketing, it will generate a turnover of over RM100mil in the first year, he said.
The market share of these products are expected to achieve an annual growth rate of 10% to 20% over subsequent years through Famas advertising and promotion programmes.
Effendi said the Malaysias Best programme will feature quality agricultural products that will be chosen through a campaign that requires them to meet stringent quality and food safety standards and that will be promoted locally and abroad.
However, farms that wish to take part in this programme are urged to be accredited with the Malaysian Farmers Accreditation Scheme and must abide by good agriculture practices.
He also said Mardi would be carrying out research work to improve the production and processing of farm produce such as fishery products, herbal products, specialty beverages and sauces.
An entrepreneur scheme for woman has identified 96 projects, with a total value of RM18mil, that included 32 farm-based projects worth RM10mil.
Some of these projects are expected to generate a net income of RM7,000 a month for each entrepreneur.