ISKANDAR PUTERI, 30 JULY: The people of Mersing, while looking forward to exciting developments in agriculture and tourism projects are also beneficiaries of ECERDC’s empower ECER an entrepreneur ECER programmes, aiming to develop sustainable micro and SME entrepreneurs as well as talents of the future in uplifting the socio-economy of the local community.
DEVELOPING SUSTAINABLE MICRO AND SME ENTREPRENEURS
From 2018 to date, ECERDC through its strategic partnership with Agrobank and Maybank has developed 92 entrepreneurs in Mersing, Johor, who have received loans to support as well as expand their businesses. Another 31 entrepreneurs are currently undergoing product quality development with SIRIM in preparation to penetrate a broader market.
The above programmes have enabled the entrepreneurs to not only sustain but even grow their businesses during the pandemic by harnessing the knowledge gained on e-commerce, and online marketing from the programmes as well as the financial assistance provided.
Among them are Rekha a/p Alagapan, owner of Ms Tan Agro Farm Sdn. Bhd. and Maslina binti Selasa, owner of Sate Nitar Enterprise who are under the entrepreneur ECER-Agrobank programme. Rekha has expanded her farm from 7 acres to 70 acres, increasing her organic vegetable sale from RM100,000 to RM200,000 a month. She currently employs 12 Orang Asli at her farm.
Meanwhile, Maslina found her sales increasing by over 100% from RM32,000 to RM80,000 a month after she began marketing on online platforms for home delivery. She currently employs 22 locals to help cope with her business growth.
“The rakyat has and will continue to be at the heart of our socio-economic transformation in Mersing. This is why the Federal Government through ECERDC is committed to continuing programmes such as empower ECER and entrepreneur ECER to ensure that the B40 group especially in Mersing, are provided with the skills, knowledge and opportunities to sustain their businesses, as well as to improve academic performance and gain marketable skills which will help improve their livelihood,” said En. Baidzawi Che Mat, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, following the ECER Implementation and Coordination Committee (ICC) Johor meeting chaired by Menteri Besar Dato’ Haji Hasni Bin Haji Mohammad yesterday.
PROVIDING ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT AND TALENT DEVELOPMENT
Recognising the unique challenges faced by low-income students during the pandemic, ECERDC together with its strategic partners through empower ECER have carried out a holistic approach to help them achieve better academic results. Online learning experiences are also made interactive and fun for the students to facilitate greater participation.
Students in the district of Mersing participating in the empower ECER programme showed remarkable improvement with 90% of the 200 students who sat for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination passing all subjects, as compared to only 36% before they joined the programme.
One of the students, Izzati Omar, from SMK Ungku Husin obtained 5As, 3Bs and 1E in SPM 2020, a marked improvement from the 1B, 2Cs, 1D, 4Es and1G result she received prior to joining the empower ECER programme.
Izzati, whose father earns RM70 a day sending fish from Endau to Johor Bahru to be sold said she was thankful that she joined the empower ECER programme as with her improved result, she could pursue her ambition and continue her studies in nursing.
Apart from the academic training programme, ECERDC also facilitates efforts to ensure placement in institutions of higher learning or skills development for its empower ECER students. Meanwhile, to assist jobseekers who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, ECERDC continues its efforts under the PENJANA-ECERDC Reskilling and Upskilling programmes that will enable participants to secure jobs in the automotive and oil and gas sectors upon completion of the programme.
MB JOHOR JOINS PARTICIPANTS OF ACES I4.0 WEB APP PILOT PROGRAMME
The Menteri Besar of Johor had a first-hand experience of the ACES I4.0 Web App Pilot Programme when he joined 70 students and two trainers undergoing an online lesson after the ICC Johor meeting that was held on 29 July 2021 (Thursday).
The ACES I4.0 Web App Pilot Programme is being delivered through a series of webinars targeting SPM graduates under the empower ECER programme across ECER states. The pilot programme aiming to create awareness of Industry 4.0 (I4.0) among students is currently running until 31 July 2021 involving more than 3,100 students across ECER.
The Menteri Besar gave them a pep talk on the importance of I4.0 for the future development of the state as well as the district of Mersing and urged the participants to continue equipping themselves with the relevant knowledge to seize opportunities in the future and help accelerate the state’s economic growth.
GROWING AGRIBUSINESS POTENTIAL
Agriculture is one of the primary priorities for ECERDC in Mersing. ECERDC’s vision is to transform ECER into a major food production hub for the nation through its agrofood@ECER initiative which is now under planning, at the same time addressing the nation’s food security concern as well as create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the rakyat. Among the ongoing projects are Jemaluang Dairy Valley (JDV) and Endau-Mersing Fish Processing Park (EMFPP).
Jemaluang Dairy Valley (JDV) is a key agribusiness project which focuses on dairy cattle farming. The project is moving according to schedule and ECERDC is finalising the final selection of the anchor company that will be responsible to carry out the project by October this year. When completed, JDV is expected to increase national milk production by 11%.
The integrated development project which will include barns, a milking area, a milk processing centre and a fodder station for cattle feed will create a sustainable dairy activity encompassing both upstream and downstream activities. The holistic development of the dairy production value chain at JDV will have direct socio-economic benefits for the locals, creating multiple jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities as satellite farmers and agropreneurs.
Meanwhile, the Endau-Mersing Fish Processing Park (EMFPP) which covers 2.85 acres of land, is currently under construction and will include a central cold room, fish and seafood product processing facilities, as well as factory facilities. The EMFPP is envisioned to be a catalyst for developing local Small-and-Medium size entrepreneurs (SMEs) involved in producing high-quality value-added fish-based products in the district, especially for export markets. The complex, which is expected to be completed in March 2022 has already attracted interest from several local companies.
FOCUSING ON LONG-TERM GROWTH OF TOURISM INDUSTRY
ECERDC remains committed to ensuring high impact tourism projects like Kampung stay in Air Papan which is a community-based homestay development, Sultan Iskandar Marine Park and Information Centre (PIPTLSI) in Pulau Besar, which will serve as a one-stop centre for locals and tourists, as well as Rainforest Discovery Centre in Peta which is located in Endau-Rompin (Johor) National Park are carried out as planned. These projects will bring about long-term benefits for the people of Mersing.
Despite the setback of the pandemic which has adversely affected the socio-economic progress of Mersing which is heavily dependent on tourism activities, ECERDC is cautiously optimistic of a rebound especially with the encouraging news of relaxation of travel restrictions for those who have completed their vaccination.
“ECERDC, together with all parties involved from the Federal Government, State Government and relevant agencies will continue to work together to build the people’s resilience and competitiveness so that they can thrive in the new reality. ECERDC also remains confident that the ongoing agriculture and tourism projects will bring spillover benefits to the people as both sectors remain a viable source of economic activity in the near term,” concluded En. Baidzawi.
About ECER and ECERDC
The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) is a statutory body established to spearhead the execution and implementation of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Master Plan. ECERDC plays a lead role in setting the directions, policies and strategies for the socio-economic development of ECER by promoting and facilitating investments into the Region.
ECER, which covers the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor, is a rapidly transforming region that is steadily positioning itself as a distinctive, dynamic and competitive destination for investments.
Geographically, it covers a total area of over 66,000 sq km or 51% of Peninsular Malaysia. It is home to some 4.8 million people, or about 15% of the total national population. The economic growth in the Region is driven by six key economic clusters, namely Tourism, Oil, Gas & Petrochemical, Manufacturing, Agribusiness, Human Capital and Entrepreneurship Development as well as Logistics and Services. These clusters are supported by developments in Transportation, Infrastructure, Property and Environment to make the Region an ideal destination for business, investments and quality living.