Budget 2023: Govt targets 800 acres of idle land to help strengthen food security - Tengku Zafrul

07 Oct 2022 09:04pm
Photo for illustrative purposes . Photo: 123RF
Photo for illustrative purposes . Photo: 123RF

KUALA LUMPUR - The government will continue to strengthen food security so that it will no longer be dependent on imports in order to be resilient against any shocks in the future.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said one of the initiatives is to increase food production by using abandoned lands owned by the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (FELCRA) and the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA) with an area up to 800 acres (323 hectares) for food crops.

"To support sustainable agriculture efforts, RM86 million has been allocated to MAFI (Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries) for various initiatives, including the development of agrofood sustainability," he said when tabling Budget 2023 in the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said RM1 billion in funds has been provided to raise the self-sufficiency level (SSL) via the Bank Negara Malaysia Agrofood Financing Scheme at a rate of 3.5 per cent for agrofood entrepreneurs to improve productivity.

Apart from this, he said RM250 million had also been set aside for the Agrovest Investment Programme by Agrobank to fund agricultural start-ups using modern technology.

"An investment of RM200 million by Khazanah under the Dana Impak with a focus to increase the income and productivity of smallholders, the Digital Agtech programme under the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) will be expanded to 264 Area Farmers' Organisations nationwide with an allocation of RM20 million to train more smallholders to adapt to digital technologies," he said.

Also planned is the Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family) Hardcore Poverty Eradication Programme

which will focus on the promotion of low SSL crops such as chilli, ginger and cabbage among selected households.

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He said the tax incentive period for food production projects will be extended to the end of 2025 with the scope of incentives also expanded to include modern agricultural projects based on Controlled Environment Agriculture.

"An example is the indoor vertical farming concept developed by Dr Jayanthi (Desan), from the Boomgrow company, where vegetables are grown in modified cargo containers and using lights with Internet of Things sensors and applying artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms," he said.

He said the government also plans to extend the tax incentive for companies with the BioNexus status for applications received until the end of 2024, and this will be improved with the income tax exemption on statutory income increased from 70 per cent to 100 per cent.

To drive productivity and improve efficiency through automation, especially in the agricultural sector, the government plans to give Accelerated Capital Allowance and 100 per cent income tax exemption on capital expenditure.

This incentive, he said, is for the manufacturing, agriculture and services sectors including those related to medicine which adapt the elements of Industry 4.0 as well as entrepreneurs who implement the closed cage system. - BERNAMA