Venture capital disbursement to follow SOP


Uggah (second right) receiving an outline of the discussion for the workshop on venture capital from Prasun (third left), witnessed by (from left) Dr Abdul Rahman, Ismawi and Sagah. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development will ensure that it follows a proper standard operating procedure (SOP) in the distribution of its venture capital to facilitate the participation of local agriculture industry players.

In stating this, its minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the SOP is very important to ensure that the fund achieves its objective of uplifting the livelihood of farmers, especially those in the rural areas, besides bringing them to a new level of modern farming.

“I must emphasise that a proper SOP is very critical in terms of things like how to manage the fund, how to select the projects, and later on, how to run the project,” he told reporters after officiating a workshop on venture capital held in conjunction with the International Conference on Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sarawak 2017 (Icaas 2017) at Hilton Kuching here yesterday.

The RM100-million venture capital was announced by Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg in July this year to groom and empower rural entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector, and would be placed with the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development for disbursement next year.

In acknowledging that quite a number of programmes implemented had not been able to achieve their objectives, Uggah stressed that he would like to see this venture capital fund achieving its objective this time around.

“The bottom line is we have to be successful. We have to learn from the past and as we move towards the vision of our chief minister for our state to be a net exporter of high quality agriculture products, we need to involve the smallholders who have the land and manpower but don’t have the capital and management (skills).” With this in mind, Uggah, who is Deputy Chief Minister, said the state government is proposing a ‘Sarawak model of venture capital’, a partnership between the private sector, local people (smallholders) and the government.

“Eventually, we are hoping to be able to create a community-based enterprise involving the rural people that they will be able to come together and form their own management and run this enterprise on a cooperative basis and so on.

“But what is important is they are running it themselves, plan the projects and working with the private sector. This project is to be profitable and beneficial to the farmers.”

Uggah stated that since this venture capital is up for implementation next year, his ministry will have to work out the plan and ensure that it is implemented latest by March next year.

When asked if the venture capital will be increased over the years, Uggah said: “If it is successful, why not? Ultimately, we want to have a model whereby the private sector, people themselves, landowners are able to manage their own community business enterprise.

“Besides that, we want them to be able to make use of the latest technology, determining what crops to plant and how to produce international standard products and how to make sure there is proper management of supply line and so on. So those are the vision that we have, that the people themselves play an active role in determining their future.”

As to whether there will be any key-performance indicator (KPI) to evaluate the success of the venture capital in reaching its objective, Uggah said: “The chief minister will set the KPI for us”.

The objective of the workshop, attended by senior state government officers and agencies, was to identify a viable, sustainable model for venture capital in the agriculture and agro-based sector that will benefit the community and the private investor as partner in the venture.

A briefing on ‘Building Venture Capital Fund to Promote Technology Adoption and Agribusiness Promotion in the State of Sarawak, Malaysia’ was conducted by Dr Prasun Kumar Das, the secretary-general of Asia Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association, Bangkok, Thailand.

Among those present were Assistant Minister of Native Land Development Datuk Roland Sagah and Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail and Deputy State Secretary Datu Ismawi Ismuni.