Cooperative movements in Sarawak have been urged to actively participate in the Sarawak Government’s many initiatives to develop the state into becoming a global food production hub. Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said cooperatives have the resources to potentially be one of the driving force in developing the state’s food production sector further by investing in more commercial scale agriculture-based businesses.
He added that time for cooperatives to be more involved in projects that can bring about huge multiplier impact not only for its members but the local community as well. As of end last year there were 1,077 cooperatives in Sarawak, with close to 300,000 members. During the period, the cooperatives in the state registered RM240.52 million in revenue, with total assets valued at RM636.14 million. This is where they can assist in addressing the country’s food security issue, Malaysia needs to start producing food locally and reduce dependency on imports, however, this may require huge capital, and that is why not many entrepreneurs are brave enough to venture into this. Cooperatives can step in as they have the resources to venture into other strategic investments, such as in commercial agro-based businesses. This type of investment could bring about huge benefits for the members as well as the community by creating job opportunities, accelerating infrastructure development in Sarawak and many more spill over effect.
It was earlier reported in 2019, Malaysia’s total agricultural imports stood at around US$18.3 billion, of which roughly 7 per cent was sourced from the United States. Dr Wan Junaidi, who is also Santubong Member of Parliament, said the country, over the years, have seen how over dependency on imported food items could bring about many problems, ranging from health, safety, inflation as well as halal issues. As a result of this, it is time need for Malaysians to be more involved in food production, especially halal food, not only for domestic consumption but also for international market.
With 1.6 billion Muslim population across the globe, there is certainly a huge demand for halal products. It is estimated that the global market demand for halal products and services in 2019 was at US$2 trillion.