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      22 June 2018  

SEDIA receives courtesy visit by Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries

Kota Kinabalu (Friday) - The Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) today received a courtesy visit from Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries YB Junz Wong, at the Wisma SEDIA office. The minister was met by SEDIA Chief Executive Datuk Dr. Mohd Yaakub Hj Johari, with other senior officers of SEDIA.

YB Junz Wong, a two-term assemblyman who won the Tanjung Aru state seat in the recent 14th general elections, stated upon his arrival that he understands that the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) has several initiatives relating to the agriculture and food industries, and would like to have a clearer view of the development in the state. Datuk Dr. Mohd Yaakub welcomed the delegation and briefed them on the SDC programme, and the projects and initiatives under its banner.

  SEDIA Chief Executive Datuk Dr. Mohd Yaakub Johari Hj Johari (fifth from left) presenting YB Junz Wong (sixth from left) with a copy of The Journey: Ten Years of SDC publication

In the agriculture industry, a key project under SDC is the Keningau Integrated Livestock Centre (KILC) in the Sook sub-district, about 45 kilometres from the main Keningau town area. Covering 834 hectares, the project is one of the largest cattle farms in the country. The state agriculture sector aims to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, produce high value commodities for export as well as to help eradicate poverty in the state, thus the KILC project is a mechanism to meet the demand for high quality dairy breeds, which is among the factors constraining the development of the dairy industry in Malaysia, and Sabah in particular. KILC components which are currently fully funded by the Federal government can help produce more high quality dairy breeds to be distributed to livestock breeders with the purpose of increasing dairy production and income.

Facilities, initiatives, and incubation programmes at the Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct (SAIP) were also covered in the briefing. Located at Kimanis, in the district of Papar with an estimated area of 215 acres, SAIP is envisaged to become a new centre of excellence in agro-biotechnology that optimises the state's biodiversity and abundant natural resources to produce higher value-added food and specialty products based on botanicals, aquatic plants and animals. As one of the key economic clusters under SDC, SAIP will serve as a test-bed for carrying out biotech-driven research and development (R&D) and to develop biotech-driven businesses. Unlike other existing science and technology parks (STP) in other states in Malaysia, SAIP has a distinct focus on Specialty Natural Products (SNP), agro-biotech, cosmetics and health food products.

One of the initiatives available at SAIP is the Agro-SAIP Training Programme, which was established with the aim to empower technopreneurs in the agri-based industry, by giving the necessary exposure and transfer of knowledge, especially on the processing of agri-food and SNPs. Through the training programme, participants are given access to experienced speakers and industry representatives in various sectors; speakers well-versed in pharma-herbs, Controlled Environment Farming, post-harvest handling technology, agro-organic and agro-food industries, business and marketing through e-Commence, and bio-science and biotechnology had been invited to come and share their experience and expertise with participants. Designed to be a part of the SAIP pre-incubation initiative, the programme also screens and selects potential agro-technopreneurs, thus preparing them to operate under a conducive incubator business environment.

Following up in the incubator stage is the 1BizLink programme, meant to assist aspiring entrepreneurs initiate businesses revolved around downstream agri-products, especially those that utilise science- and technology-based advancements. Through the SDC, the 1BizLink development programme functions by assisting new entrepreneurs and start-ups, unlocking the potential in SMEs to further accelerate their growth, as well as linking businesses to the SDC economic clusters.

The programme also provides a Hot Desk service, whereby ready staffs are available to provide hands-on assistance to facilitate and mentor entrepreneurs through discussion, entrepreneurial training and brainstorming sessions. An accelerator programme is also available for SMEs to upscale and further develop their business and facilitate access to financing for existing Bumiputera SMEs seeking business expansion.

SAIP, as well as other economic clusters under SDC, offer fiscal incentives. These fiscal incentives are available for activities specific to various economic clusters, covering several industries. The incentives include full tax exemption on statutory income for up to 10 years, or investment tax allowance of 100% on qualifying capital expenditure for five years, which can be offset against 100% of statutory income. These investment activities can also be eligible for exemption on import duty sales tax exemption on equipment and machineries used, subject to current policy.

The delegation was also briefed on future strategies and targets under the SDC. During the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (11MP), SEDIA will accord greater emphasis on enhancing the state's global connectivity to ensure seamless movement of people, goods and services. Efforts will be directed especially towards enhancing the efficiency of the logistics sector by improving the relevant infrastructure and the integration of land, sea, and air services.

The current ongoing implementation of the Pan Borneo Highway will link the various economic clusters under SDC, thus realising enhanced land connectivity. Looking beyond the region, Sabah's locational advantage will allow Sabah, as well as Malaysia, to leverage China's proposed One Belt One Road, and Maritime Silk Route initiatives. Sabah can therefore serve as the conduit, linking the Asia-Pacific and RCEP economies to the Middle East, Europe and Africa and contribute towards the vision of turning Malaysia as the regional logistics hub. To this end, SEDIA has commissioned a Masterplan Study for Aviation Hub and Air Freight Logistics, which will provide a road map to cater for increased air passenger and freight service capabilities from Kota Kinabalu. Also during 11MP, expansion of the Sapangar Bay Container Port had been approved, allowing for more efficient container handling that will speed up discharging and loading operations.

Following the discussion, YB Junz Wong acknowledged that a lot of the efforts under SDC aligns with efforts under his ministry to develop downstream activities in the agriculture industry. He remarked that moving forward, there is a need for collaboration between SEDIA and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries, in order to plan ahead as well as enhance agriculture initiatives.

- Media SEDIA

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