PM announces RM100m allocation to help cooperatives develop agro-food industry

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (File photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (File photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 2): Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Saturday (July 2) announced an allocation of RM100 million from the Agro-Food Fund to be placed under the Cooperatives Commission of Malaysia (SKM) to help cooperatives develop the agro-food industry, especially poultry farming.

The prime minister the allocation will help cooperatives boost food production, in turn reducing the problem of rising prices of goods which have had a big impact on Keluarga Malaysia (the Malaysian family). 

“The government has agreed that the Agro-Food Fund regulated by Bank Negara Malaysia be extended to cooperatives involved in this sector,” he said when officiating at the 2022 National Cooperative Month celebration here on Saturday.

Also present were Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar and Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim.

Ismail Sabri said the government has also agreed that cooperatives should be given quotas for foreign workers so that the plantation affairs could run smoothly, adding that the Human Resources Ministry would facilitate cooperative applications if there were constraints with the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS).

Ismail Sabri said the government in policy also supported the establishment of Koperasi Rakyat BR 2.0 Malaysia Bhd, or BR 2.0, a newly established cooperative entity under the Cooperatives Societies Act 1993 (Act 502) and regulated by SKM.

He said BR 2.0 is expected to play a bigger role in helping to develop the cooperative sector as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) and further contribute to the country's economic development.

“The establishment of BR 2.0 also allows Keluarga Malaysia to invest and own shares in cooperatives such as Bank Rakyat with expected good returns,” he said.

The prime minister also announced a special allocation of RM10 million to the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry to fund strategic collaboration activities with associations and non-governmental organisations such as exhibitions and expositions. 

Earlier, Ismail Sabri said that to date, there were 14,834 cooperatives registered under SKM with a total membership of 7.1 million, proving that Malaysians were showing an increased interest in the cooperative sector.

He said the cooperatives’ movement also had a share capital and collected fees of RM16.5 billion, with assets totalling RM155 billion with procurement exceeding RM37.9 billion.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri said he was confident that cooperatives were an effective approach not only in stimulating entrepreneur development, but also were capable of playing an important role in helping the B40 group tackle the issue of rising costs of living.

Within the context of cooperatives, the power in the hands of the public can determine affordable prices with the quality of guaranteed use, he added. 

“The power of the cooperatives’ movement can impact the price of consumer goods in the market because with cooperatives, we are the owners and we are also the consumers,” he said.

The prime minister said as the government works on putting the country on the path to being a high-income nation by 2025, the rising cost of living is clearly one of the biggest challenges currently. 

To face this challenge, he said the government needed the cooperation of all parties, especially from SKM and Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Bhd (Angkasa) by focusing on strengthening the development of the cooperatives’ movement in controlling the supply chain.

Ismail Sabri said concerted efforts could be taken by SKM and Angkasa through the involvement of cooperatives in the wholesale and retail industries.

“With the large number of cooperatives and the strength of over 20% of the country’s population, the cooperatives’ movement collectively has the power to influence the cost of living of Malaysians effectively.

“The cooperatives’ movement needs to be strengthened at every level of the food supply chain, including the marketing of products at competitive prices,” he added.