Infrastructure Projects in the Pipeline to Boost Economic Activities Post-COVID-19

KUALA TERENGGANU, 20 OCTOBER 2020: The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) and the Terengganu State Government will be focusing on the development of agriculture activities as well as the tourism segment as the next growth areas in the State. These efforts are in line with the Government’s aspiration to bolster self-sufficiency in food supplies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and to improve tourism, which was one of the major economy drivers that was severely affected during the onset of the pandemic.

The availability of vast agricultural land in Terengganu has made it one of the key agricultural areas in ECER. In fact, last year, the State had launched the Terengganu Agricultural Strategic Plan 2019 – 2023 which aims to utilise some 12,000 hectares of agricultural land to ensure continuous food security as well as establish agricultural activities as an attractive and lucrative business venture. The plan looks to diversify the types of livestock activities, particularly beef cattle industrial farming such as ‘lembu sado’ and dairy goat farming, which enjoys high demand both locally and abroad.

“ECERDC has identified various initiatives to boost the agriculture sector in Terengganu. A vital strategy for transformative and inclusive growth in agribusiness is through the Anchor Company Model. This game-changing approach has resulted in rapid modernization, diversification and scaling of the Region’s agricultural sector,” said Encik Baidzawi Che Mat, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC at the ECER Implementation and Coordination Committee (ICC) Terengganu held today.

The Anchor Company Business Model is a public-private cooperation in which the Government through ECERDC will invest in the necessary infrastructures while the qualified companies and experts from the private sectors are appointed to manage the agribusiness projects. The appointed company will also invest in the necessary technologies whilst providing employment opportunities and skills training for local talents.

Over the last 10 years, ECERDC has implemented several livestock projects in Terengganu to increase the production of local animal breeds for distribution through contract and satellite farming. The Telaga Papan Boer Goat Farm and Kuala Berang Sheep Breeding and Innovation Centre are critical projects contributing to reducing dependency on imported meat and creating sustainable livestock farming at both small and large scale.

Whereas the Besut-Setiu Agropolitan (BSA) project is a poverty eradication programme implemented by ECERDC that provides participants with the opportunity to participate in agriculture activities. ECERDC also provides housing and community facilities for participants and family members. The BSA project rears Dorper sheep as its main activity and has almost 2,000 livestock on 150 hectares of land, which is the largest Dorper breeding farm in Terengganu. The project has benefited 85 participants and their 340 family members, enabling them to break free from living beneath the poverty line. Family members are also encouraged to participate in secondary small-scale farming like rearing ducks and planting vegetables, to provide a secondary income source.

The ICC meeting today which was chaired by Terengganu Menteri Besar, YAB Datuk Seri Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar was carried out virtually in light of the current COVID-19 circumstances.

“Private investment into ECER’s agriculture sector is a key driver of socio-economic development in ECER. ECER offers vast tracts of land ready to be used for cultivating high-value crops. ECERDC works closely with all stakeholders in the public and private sectors to facilitate the success of investors in agricultural projects. We are also committed to helping investors further unlock the vast potential in the Region by exploring new or diversifying opportunities in the various Agribusiness sectors, particularly in the application of high-technology and innovative farming methods,” said Encik Baidzawi.

Another important economic driver that will spur socio-economic growth in the Region is the Tourism sector. Tourism in Terengganu is well-established, with world-class island destinations offering pristine beaches and incredible marine diversity. To boost island tourism activities, ECERDC is undertaking several infrastructure upgrading works, such as the construction of jetties at Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Redang and Pulau Kapas and the construction of a tubewell at Pulau Lang Tengah.

“The government, through ECERDC, is investing significantly into infrastructure to enhance tourism. While the projects delivered so far are important, more needs to be done to further enhance the sustainability of the tourism sector. Preservation and conservation of ECER’s natural endowments are key to creating economic value while ensuring sustainability,” said Encik Baidzawi Che Mat.

Besides developing tourist facilities at Terengganu’s natural wonders, ECERDC has also ‘created’ destinations such as the iconic KTCC Drawbridge – a must visit location for local and foreign tourists. In fact, between August and December last year, the KTCC Drawbridge, which is the first drawbridge in Malaysia, had recorded 700,000 visitors.

“The socio-economic transformation in Terengganu post-COVID-19 pandemic will be accelerated through these identified high-impact development projects. Both the agriculture and tourism segments will spur private investments into Terengganu which will bring about direct socio-economic benefits to the rakyat through increased jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities,” continued Encik Baidzawi.

Terengganu has continued to strengthen its position as an attractive investment destination in ECER. Under the ECER Master Plan 2.0 (2018 to 2025), out of the RM26 billion investment target for Terengganu, the state has secured RM1.53 billion in committed investments from 14 projects, which in turn will create more than 2,000 new job opportunities and about 300 entrepreneurial opportunities for the rakyat. A total of RM822 million has been realised within the same reporting period.

In terms of human capital development, over 6,000 locals have participated and benefited from initiatives under ECERDC’s empower ECER Academic Training (4,896) and Skills and Entrepreneurship (1,286) programmes. Additionally, the entrepreneur ECER programme has developed and created 1,027 entrepreneurs which in turn have generated in excess of 2,300 new job opportunities for the local communities under EMP 2.0.