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By Massita Ahmad
SINGAPORE, Jan 2 -- The Agrobazaar Online portal of the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) consistently attracts a high flow of traffic and is almost congested.
This phenomenon started when the first Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented, FAMA director general Datuk Zainal Abidin Yang Razalli revealed to Bernama recently.
Agrobazaar Online recorded its strongest sales in April last year amounting to RM835,579.
This came after FAMA, in collaboration with the National Security Council, made an announcement via a short message system (SMS) early that month to promote the portal.
Following the imposition of the MCO to curb the spread of COVID-19, consumers were seen having difficulty getting fresh agro-based goods and necessities, as almost all physical retail outlets such as “pasar awam” dan “pasar tani” were closed.
FAMA, highly aware of the situation amid the trend of consumers shifting towards online shopping, acted aggressively by intensifying the promotion and publicity for Agrobazaar Online.
Apart from SMS, social media platforms, and media coverage, FAMA also utilised advertisements wrapped around as well as inside KTM’s Light Rapid Transit and Electric Train Service trains to rejuvenate the portal.
Developed and managed by FAMA, Agrobazaar Online was launched on Dec 5, 2015.
To make it easier for consumers to get access to goods, FAMA also works with other e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, Shopee, and Foodpanda.
The agency also leverages the digital platforms by doing “Great Sales” on special dates -- 10.10, 11.11 and 12.12 -- as well as in conjunction with the Merdeka and 55 years of FAMA celebrations.
As at 11.11, a total of 5,902 entrepreneurs were registered on Agrobazaar Online with 18,775 stock keeping units (SKUs) and total sales of RM7.9 million were recorded.
Meanwhile, the six-month collaboration between FAMA, Lazada and Shopee starting April 2020 managed to record sales amounting to RM128,565.86 and almost 258 SKUs were marketed.
Apart from the strategic alliance, Zainal Abidin said, FAMA is planning a collaboration in training entrepreneurs to develop their own e-commerce websites through the eFAMAplace platform and Shoppergram.Com.
“Entrepreneurs cannot be 'silent participants' only. They need to do a promotion together,” said Zainal Abidin.
For eFAMAplace alone, it will provide alternative market space through Shopee’s platform, with 1,000 small and medium enterprise (SME) companies expected to benefit from the programme.
Through the eFAMAplace platform, FAMA estimates to achieve a sales value of RM1.5 million over a period of six months.
Going forward, Zainal Abidin said FAMA will create Agrohub, a storage, packaging and delivery centre for online sales.
For the first phase of Agrohub development, five locations have been identified, namely in Perak, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Johor and Sabah, he said.
"It is to ensure that the distribution of goods can be done more quickly and accurately while maintaining the quality of the fresh agro-based products," he said.
For recruitment and delivery matters, FAMA has already collaborated with logistics companies such as Pos Malaysia, Lalamove and goget.
Zainal Abidin hopes that Agrobazaar Online will complement the existing digitalisation system in empowering the agriculture and agro-food sectors in line with digital marketing.
"I see it as a blessing during the pandemic. The new norm is changing the way people buying things. They get into digital but it can still help SME entrepreneurs especially agro-based to increase their income,” he said.
Digitalisation is a culture that is now among the new norms that are being nurtured at all levels including in the government, private and community sectors.
FAMA, through Agrobazaar Online, is seen to be at the forefront.
Since March 18, the first day of MCO, until Nov 8, 2020, sales through Agrobazaar Online as well as Pre Order order service via Whatsapp reached RM15.43 million with 122,720 deliveries.
In comparison, total online sales throughout 2019 were only RM1.043 million.
Meanwhile, in the first 10 months of 2020, the portal recorded a 523 per cent surge in users to 44,041 compared to 7,068 users in the same period of 2019.
Orders soared 275 per cent to 16,849 from 4,495 orders previously.
Combined with the offline physical setting, FAMA recorded sales of RM721.58 million from March 18 to Nov 8, 2020.
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