Human Capital Development, Agriculture and Tourism Will Catalyse Socio-Economic Revitalisation
KUALA TERENGGANU, 16 FEBRUARY 2020: The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) will spearhead and coordinate poverty eradication programme in Terengganu to assist the rakyat who are facing challenges posed by the pandemic and reduce unemployment.
For the long-term economic development of Terengganu, human capital development will be key to addressing both the present needs of the rakyat through reskilling and upskilling programmes, as well as preventing the future poor through education support for students. In tandem, the economic revitalisation of the region will focus on agribusiness as well as on bolstering the tourism infrastructure in the State to ensure long-term sustainability in preparation for when travelling are allowed again.
“YAB Prime Minister in our Council Meeting in January stressed that poverty eradication has to be one of the main agenda in the development strategy in the East Coast to uplift their livelihood. With the revision of the country’s Poverty Line Income (PLI) from RM980 to RM2,502 for Terengganu in 2020, the number of households living under the poverty line in the state is expected to rise from 11,280 to 38,859. The poverty rate among the 1,007 Orang Asli in Terengganu is absolute.”
“To address this, ECERDC will spearhead and coordinate the poverty eradication programme in the ECER while continuing our market-centric human capital development programmes, strategic development projects and attract investment to the Region which will open new job and entrepreneurship opportunities and reduce unemployment,” said Encik Baidzawi Che Mat, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC at the ECER Implementation and Coordination Committee (ICC) Terengganu held today.
HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
ECERDC’s human capital development programmes runs on two parallel strategies, which will address both the current need for locals to secure better paying jobs in a rapidly transforming economy as well as the need to prevent future poor. The programme will be centred on changing the mindset of the target group and providing them with skills that will enable them to either secure better employment or become entrepreneurs.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ECERDC extended its ECER Talent Enhancement Programme (ETEP) under PENJANA-ECERDC to support investors and the rakyat in the short term. The programme offers several technical courses to equip participants with skills required by industries and job placement secured before training commenced. ECERDC’s Train & Place programme targets to train 1,600 skilled workers a year and ensure job placements within a month of completing their training. To date, 1,229 participants have completed training and a further 3,771 participants are projected to complete their training by May 2021.
In the fight against poverty, special focus will be given to the Orang Asli households and this includes Standard 5 and 6 students in Orang Asli schools in Sungai Berua and Sungai Pergam.
ECERDC is also developing entrepreneurs through the empower ECER programme. A total of 1,359 new entrepreneurs were developed and trained in skills such as bookkeeping and digitalization. ECERDC also helped participants formalise their business. A mentorship programme involving handholding, on the job training and industrial visits. Under the entrepreneur ECER programme, 1,520 entrepreneurs have been facilitated to scale up their business. This includes improving production quality, packaging, branding and certification.
Agriculture is a key economic focus in the State in line with the Terengganu Agricultural Strategic Plan 2019-2023, which aims to utilise some 12,000 hectares of agricultural land to ensure the nation’s continuous food security. The vision is for Terengganu to become a self-sufficient and move on to be a major food producer for the nation.
To this end, ECERDC plans to develop the Terengganu Dairy Valley in collaboration with the Terengganu state government and Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries by 2023 to meet the country’s milk consumption, following the successful model of another ECERDC project – the Muadzam Shah Cattle Research and Innovation Centre (MSCRIC) in Rompin, Pahang. According to the Livestock Statistics, Malaysia imports 1,724.5 million litres of milk and milk products and locally produces only 43.3 million litres of fresh milk in 2019. This project is expected to add a further 10 to 11% of the local fresh milk production. The country’s high import of beef will also be addressed as an outcome from the dairy milk business.
ECERDC is in the midst of identifying suitable areas to be developed for dairy cattle farming. ECERDC will also contribute to the growth of the dairy industry through infrastructure development and other support measures and continue to promote agricultural activities as an attractive and lucrative business venture, particularly beef cattle industrial farming such as the breeding of ‘lembu sado’ and dairy goat farming, as well as fisheries.
ECERDC is already addressing the supply of goat and sheep at the Telaga Papan Boer Goat Farm which will reduce dependency on imported meat and creating sustainable livestock farming at both small and large scale. Meanwhile, the Besut-Setiu Agropolitan (BSA) project rears Dorper sheep as its main activity on 150 hectares of land, which is the largest Dorper breeding farm in Terengganu. The project is also a poverty eradication programme by ECERDC, where participants and their families can benefit from the agriculture activities, as well as housing and community facilities provided. The BSA project has benefited 85 participants and their 340 family members, enabling them to break free from living beneath the poverty line.
ECERDC is also looking at the overall fisheries industries in Terengganu in order to make a difference to the lives of the fishermen and transform the fisheries industry. Infrastructure that needs to be upgraded at major sites such as Chendering and Pulau Kambing is being identified to propel the local fisheries industry forward.
“The Tourism sector has been significantly affected by the pandemic. Nonetheless ECERDC continues to roll out strategic infrastructure projects which will be key to reviving the Tourism sector in the State,” said Encik Baidzawi.
A key project is the Setiu Wetlands National Park, an area consisting of nine interconnected ecosystems with unique flora, fauna and wildlife, including several ‘Critically Endangered’ & ‘Endangered’ species. Immediate priorities include the establishment of the Setiu Wetlands Management Zone and gazetting the Wetlands as a State Park, to effectively protect its ecology. The goal is to make Setiu Wetlands a prime ecotourism destination in Malaysia, especially with the creation of the Setiu Tourism Trail.
To complement this, ECERDC proposes to take a community-based tourism (CBT) approach in Setiu Wetlands, a new concept of tourism where tourists are guided by the local community. The CBT approach empowers the local community while ensuring the local ecological, social and cultural heritage is protected. ECERDC seeks to empower the community through the Setiu Wetlands Development Cooperative.
A game-changer in the State’s tourism industry is the Kuala Terengganu City Centre (KTCC), which includes the iconic KTCC Drawbridge. To further enhance the attraction, ECERDC is also planning to develop KTCC Promenade to create economic value for the local communities.
The government, through ECERDC, is investing significantly into infrastructure to enable and catalyse socio-economic growth while ensuring sustainability, especially for island tourism. Among the ongoing projects are the construction of additional four headlands in Pantai Teluk Lipat, Dungun and the upgrading of the solar hybrid system in Pulau Kapas.
The headlands construction started on 30 October 2020 and it is expected to be complete by end of August 2022. ECERDC has completed the construction of four (4) headlands in Teluk Lipat in 2017 and the headlands have withstood the monsoon since their completion.
The upgrading of the solar hybrid system in Pulau Kapas commenced on 15 December 2020 and is expected to be complete by end of September 2021. This renewable energy initiative is in line with the government’s target to achieve 20% renewable energy capacity mix by 2025. Currently, work to replace the Genset is underway and by March 2021, three (3) new Gensets will be installed as standby Gensets, in time for the reopening of the resorts in Pulau Kapas after the monsoon season.
As of 8 February 2021, Terengganu managed to attract RM2.2 bilion in committed private investments, which is 56% of the RM3.9 billion committed investment target for 2021. Of this total, majority of the committed invest is from manufacturing sector (99%). The target realised investments for year is RM3.2 million of which 14% of the investments in the pipeline have been implemented.
Despite facing various economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ECERDC will intensify investment promotion activities to attract new investments including in the dairy industry. This will include continuous engagements with various chambers of commerce besides promotion efforts that emphasize on focus sectors with channel partners such as Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), Terengganu Inc, and Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF), among others. ECERDC will also continue to work closely with the Federal and Terengganu state government to realize investments in the state of Terengganu, especially investment projects at KTCC.
“Development of the local communities and empowering them to create wealth through better jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities is key to the long-term socio-economic development of the State. ECERDC will continue to promote the Region as an attractive investment destination for both local and foreign investors, offering business-ready infrastructure, excellent connectivity and proactive human capital development programmes. ECERDC is also committed to preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the State. As such, plans to develop the Region are always founded on sustainability of the environment and society,” concluded Encik Baidzawi.