Agriculture is Business. The call is clear and strong, reflecting Malaysia's aspiration to turn agriculture into the third engine of growth and to make the country self-sufficient in food by 2010. This programme adopted by successful agropreneurs in the process of transformation from farmer to agropreneur is the creation of more added values to the products in terms of improvement in nutritional contents and taste.
The transformation process is set to modernize and create business opportunities throughout the entire value chain in agriculture and food production sector including the related supporting industries. Business activities in agriculture involve production of primary products, downstream or processed products, byproducts and waste utilization as well as activities in the supporting businesses, such as packaging, transportation, marketing, supply of inputs and machineries.
In these papers we will try to perceive the issues, challenges and prospects of Agropreneurs development when they moving away from the small, traditional, low technology, low productivity subsistence farming into larger scale, capital intensive and modern commercial operations.
With such opportunities and the Government's strong support, the immense potential in agribusiness certainly needs a new breed of business oriented farmers or agropreneurs who will be able to carry out their farming or food production activities as a business and on a commercial basis. Towards this end, various programmes have been implemented to develop these agropreneurs from the existing farming population as well as those without agricultural background but having strong interest and capability. The programmes, implemented and giving more focus on the business and human capital development.
Purposes of developing Agropreneurs:
Socio-economic development programmes aimed at improving the economic status of the rural population involved in agriculture has been one of the main strategic thrusts since independence. Programmes involving:
Technical advisory services.
Training of peoples to become Agropreneur, and.
One of the most important mechanisms is through the extension and technical advisory services of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and supported by other related agencies including Malaysian Agricultural Research Institute (MARDI), Farmers Development Board, Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA) and Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (FAMA). While in the earlier decades, the approach had been to change the traditional farmers' attitude into adopting better farming practices and increasing yield, it was only in the nineties that the business elements began to be included in a more prominent manner through the project impacted extension programmes. Downstream product processing activities had been given greater emphasis giving rise to the development of micro-enterprises involved in the production and marketing of traditional foods and crafts. However, the majority of these entrepreneurs earn below RM 250,000.00 per year and only a handful progressed into the RM250,000.00 – RM 10 million category of small enterprises. The Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) also saw higher allocation from the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry for agropreneur development with more focused programmes implemented by its agencies. These include improving the knowledge of the entrepreneurs, application of technology, utilization of local raw materials, improving the supply chain management as well as packaging and labeling. A cluster concept of development will also be implemented whereby an anchor company will act as the catalyst to create business opportunities for other entrepreneurs. This will cover every aspect of the business ranging from raw material production, processing, packaging and...
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