The Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) announced that it is collaborating with a consortium consisting of Malaysian and South Korean companies to bring an integrated large-scale livestock farming and renewable energy (RE) generation project to Sabah that could generate an investment of up to RM8.34 billion over the next five years.
The proposal was presented to the Minister of International Trade and Industry by the companies involved in a meeting organised by MARii.
The meeting was held in conjunction with Prime Minister two-day official visit to Seoul which begins on 4 December 2019.
The Chief Executive Officer of MARii stated that the consortium had secured US$50 million in funding for the first phase of the project to build a solar power plant that could generate 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity over 5,000 hectares.
At its maturity stage, the project would span across 25,000 hectares to accommodate a maximum of 150,000 cattle and generate 1,000 MW of power through rooftop solar panels installed on the roof of barns and warehouses.
About 200MW of energy from an independent biomass plant would also be generated for the use of livestock farming.
The project will create a new concept of smart farming in which the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary industries, including livestock farming business and industrial complex, manufacturing and service industries, grow.
The project is an example of the convergence of livestock farming and renewable energy generation business to maximise synergy in business.
Moreover, the project will have a maximum slaughter capacity of 1,000 cattle per day to cater to domestic demand, as well as the international market.
More importantly, the project would also collaborate with local farmers on the cultivation of forage crops such as kenaf, corn, wheat and hay for livestock.
Pushing smart farming in Malaysia
In August 2019, the Economic Affairs Minister announced that the government would be formulating a new policy on smart farming in the near future.
The adoption of new technology, including robotics, would further boost the Malaysian agriculture sector. The ministry is now in talks with several financial institutions regarding funding with minimal interest for smallholders involved in smart farming. However, there is a need for more trained individuals in this sector.
Later, in November 2019, the Sarawak United National Youth Organisation (Saberkas) announced that it is planning to turn its Saberkas Agrotechnology Centre (Sagrotek) Agropark into a lab for an internship programme to train members into becoming modern farmers, starting in 2020.
The Chief Minister stated that the plan is still at the preliminary stage and that Saberkas is looking to work with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and a company from Singapore to initiate the programme.
The aim is to place emphasis on modern farming to complement the state government’s effort in developing the state’s agricultural sector.
The President of Saberkas stated that under the programme, members from throughout the state can go to Sagrotek Agropark where they will learn to make use of technologies such as fertigation and others, to enable them to carry out smart farming.
The details of the programme would only be made known within the first quarter of 2020 after the preliminary studies have been done. The RM1.04 million Sagrotek Agropark was opened in 2015 on a 12-acre plot.