PETALING JAYA: As the government continues to restructure and diversify the economy to help Malaysians improve their lives, empowering the country’s rural communities to start businesses is high on the agenda.
Caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government was committed to developing such areas through the rural economy and entrepreneurship, especially when the infrastructure was already in place.
The effort is in line with the Rural Development Policy, which includes three key principles – sustainable, inclusive and holistic – to achieve greater success in rural development by 2030.
The main objective of the government is to enable the rural people to diversify their economic opportunities rather than focusing on traditional activities such as farming, fishing and rubber throwing, so that they can eventually turn to entrepreneurship.
Interim Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the budget allocation and prioritization of rural and population development will help in infrastructure development and stimulate human capital and economic growth.
Mahdzir said about RM20 million was set aside to set up a program for those interested in entrepreneurship.
The program will also involve collaboration with other agencies such as Majlis Amanah Rakyat, Felcra and Risda to enable more people to engage in rural entrepreneurship.
The 2023 budget allocation indicates a priority for improving basic infrastructure in rural areas in order to improve the quality of life of the population.
“I believe that infrastructure in rural areas is extremely important and we are working to build better infrastructure for the people, such as roads, street lights, community halls and mosques,” he said.
Felda Youth Council President Muhammad Fadzli Hasan said he was pleased with the interim prime minister’s priority to focus on rural economic development and expressed gratitude for the government’s continued efforts to improve the lives of the rural community.
“As a person from Feld, which is also a rural area, I always welcome efforts or initiatives to improve job opportunities to prevent people from migrating to big cities. We need more people here.
“I am very happy that the Prime Minister has taken positive steps to provide more choices and improve our lives in these areas, especially rural industrial development, which will allow more job opportunities to flourish and stimulate economic development,” he said.
Muhammed Fadzli added that the government’s efforts to strengthen rural entrepreneurship are linked to other efforts such as providing housing opportunities to rural communities, including the Felda Intergenerational Housing Scheme, which would prevent people from moving out of the settlement.
“Everything we hoped for has become a reality and we hope that more people will get involved in the initiatives created by the government to use resources in rural areas and go into the digital economy to allow us to cross the border without driving anywhere. through e-commerce platforms,” he said.
Dr Shankaran Nambiar, a senior researcher at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, described Ismail Sabri’s move to strengthen rural communities as good.
He added that agriculture needs to review its priorities and that the government’s actions to promote the development of agriculture are on the right track.
“However, it has to be technology-based and knowledge-intensive,” he said.
Nambiar added that rural communities rich in entrepreneurship should be nurtured.
He said that entrepreneurs should first be guided before they choose and develop the areas they intend to pursue.