By Mohamad Harith Mohamad Nizar
KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 -- Agriculture and food industries are among sectors affected by COVID-19 outbreak and in need of support and capital assistance to ensure the continuity of food chain.
Through the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA), the government aims at injecting funding to the industry, besides providing circulating capital to plantation owners, farmers and fishermen to resume their activities.
Three specific aid for the sector were the RM350 million allocation through the Microcredit Financing Scheme under Agrobank (Dana Agrofood); incentives given to pioneer companies to empower the agriculture work mobility, and in-kind contribution to support urban farming.
National Farmers’ Organisation (Nafas) board of directors chairman Dr Anis Mahmud @ Abdul Samad said the plan was additional aid to farmers after receiving the previous economic stimulus package.
“The ministry (Agriculture and Food Industries) anticipated that plantation owners and farmers would face problem in resuming activities, due to lack of capital, as such the PENJANA package was initiated to ensure that they could continue their operations, as well as others who are involved in the food industries,” he told Bernama.
On work mobility incentive, Anis explained that the programme aimed to provide training to those interested in agriculture field.
“They must have a mentor or a method so that existing plantation owners can take them (to be trained).
“The programme will choose pioneering companies where we provide fund to the companies and place a few people to be trained there for a certain period of time before they can start their own smallholdings,” he said.
Regarding in-kind contribution to urban farmers, he said, they will be assisted in term of equipment and agriculture necessities such seeds, fertilisers, advisory, and training, worth RM500 per person and RM50,000 per community.
“Individuals can apply for PENJANA assistance for their areas, for those who had lost their jobs. This contribution is for misplaced workers not farmers,” he said.
Meanwhile National Fishermen’s Association (Nekmat) general manager, Azrin Shah Ismail said PENJANA could help fishermen who were facing capital or financing problem in buying and fixing their equipment.
He said marketing of sea produce was affected during Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the fishermen’s activities to stop temporarily.
“Now that we have PENJANA, it can help. At least they can get start-up capital to resume their activities and upgrade their equipment,” he said.
On June 5, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced PENJANA worth RM35 billion with 40 initiatives to boost and stimulate the country’s economy for short term.
Malaysia National News Agency
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