PETALING JAYA: Although its allocation has been halved under Budget 2019, the Primary Industries Ministry says it will still seek to develop the agri-commodity sector.
Minister Teresa Kok said her ministry’s allocation was RM507mil, a 50.7% reduction from last year’s allocation.
Of that total, RM125.6mil is for operating expenditure while the remainder is for development expenditure.
“With the global economic growth rate at 3.7%, 2019 looks to be challenging for the agri-commodity sector.
“However, the ministry will continue to give its attention to the farming and commodities sectors, which are major contributors to the country’s economic development and a catalyst for increased income for rural folk,” Kok said in a statement.
She added that there were several key initiatives announced in the Budget which would add value to the commodities sector.
A Biodiesel B10 programme would be introduced for the transportation sector and B7 fuel for the industrial sector effective 2019, she said.
A sum of RM30mil has also been allocated for palm oil smallholders in order to obtain the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil certification.
In his response, Malayan Agricultural Producers Association executive director Mohamad Audong said the government had failed to address bigger issues such as labour shortage, low prices and production problems in the commodities sector.
“The government is apparently focusing more on the smallholders.
“There is nothing for oil palm and rubber companies, who are the other crucial players in the sector.
“Issues such as labour shortage, low prices and production are some of the immediate challenges that we are facing and should be addressed.
“Take labour shortage for example. If the problem is not addressed, all plans will not work,” Mohamad said.
He pointed out that the replanting programme was not mentioned in the Budget, especially on how to have commodities companies speed up replanting.
He also said the RM50mil allocation to protect the effects of the fall in rubber prices for smallholders should be higher.
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