New course focusing on agricultural entrepreneurism to be introduced next year
By Jude Toyat
The state government through the Department of Agriculture will be introducing a new certificate programme next year that will focus on producing agricultural entrepreneurs.
The Malaysian Skills Certificate in Agriculture is a collaborative effort with the National Agriculture Training Council (NATC) and the Department of Skills Development (JPK).
“The new programme is expected to produce entrepreneurs who are competitive and progressive to boost the agricultural sector in the state,” said Sarawak Agriculture Department director Datuk Lai Kui Fong at the Sarawak Agriculture Institute’s convocation ceremony for graduates of the Malaysian Agriculture Certificate programme on Aug 6.
He added that from 1985 to today, Sarawak Agriculture Department had successfully produced a total of 1,271 graduates to meet the needs of job market in the state.
“Out of this, 80 per cent or 946 graduates were employed either in the public or private sector. The rest are still studying at the Universiti Putra Malaysia Kampus Bintulu (UPMKB) as entrepreneurs.
“I am pleased to note that the Malaysian Agriculture Certification programme at Institute of Agriculture, Semengok is very effective and meets the needs of skilled human capital, whether in the public or private sector.”
“Twelve graduates have successful continued their studies to Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Campus for the term 2016/2017,” he said.
The graduates specialise in various fields such as Food Crop Production Technology, Agricultural Crops Processing Technology, Livestock Management, Landscape and Estate Management.
Agriculture continues to be the main sector driving economic growth in Sarawak, especially among rural communities.
“By 2020, we are targeting for the farming community to achieve a monthly income of RM4,000,” he said, adding that this could be made possible by turning the agricultural segment into a competitive and progressive sector.
A total of 98 graduates of the Sarawak Agriculture Institute received their scrolls after two years of study for the 2014/2016 session during the ceremony themed ‘Graduan Cemerlang Pertanian Gemilang’.
“This year, the Institute of Agriculture graduates achieved excellent results in which 76 per cent of them have managed to get the average Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) over 3.00.
“It is hoped that with this outstanding achievement, they will be able to reflect the true potential of our graduates upon employment.
“Graduates should not only be highly knowledgeable and skilled in the field of agriculture, but also in communication, teamwork, entrepreneurship with respectable ethics and responsibility towards the society,” he added.
Assistant Minister for Rural Economy (Interior Areas) and Plantations Datuk Francis Harden Hollis emphasised that the agricultural sector, recognised as one of Malaysia’s Strategic Trust under the National Key Economic Area (NKEA), was vital in eradicating extreme poverty and raising the income levels of many rural households by end of 2020.
Harden said that the agricultural sector continues to be a producer and provider of food for the growing population and a major contributor to the state’s economy at RM15.5 billion in 2015, representing 14.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The government is confident that with clear direction, we will witness the agricultural sector growing as a source of manpower supply at 25 per cent of the total workforce.
“Thus, the graduates as part of these human capital must come together and put great effort in raising state economic development through agriculture,” said Francis.
He also reminded the graduates not to be satisfied with just becoming salaried workers or ‘makan gaji’ as it is not the only option made available for them after their graduation.
“Their success here should not just for the sake of getting jobs, but also to contribute to their surrounding community, thus becoming human capital in line with the government’s aspiration to produce first class human capital to boost the state’s welfare.
“The graduates should be wise to take advantage of all that are in sight, including becoming 21st Century farmers by getting involved in entrepreneurship in various fields of agro-based industry.
“I hope that the knowledge they have gained from the institute will be used well in their everyday lives. I also urge the graduates to seize the opportunities and turn agriculture into a lucrative career to realise our goal of ‘Agriculture is Business’,” he added.
Also present were Assistant Minister for Agriculture Malcolm Mussem Lamoh, Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture and Rural Economy acting permanent secretary Paul Vincent Ritom, Sarawak Agriculture Institute principal Massumi Bojeng.