Civil Service In Action : Agriculture

For En Ibrahim Saleh, a veteran of the civil service, the experience of implementing the ETP through the Agriculture NKEA has been fulfilling yet challenging, with its share of ups and downs encountered along the way.

En Ibrahim Saleh

En Ibrahim Saleh,
Head of the Agriculture,
NKEA Secretariat

“Every Ministry has a focal point for the NKEA projects. Within the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), there are many players and owners of the 16 EPPs, which cover all agencies and most of the departments under the Ministry. These agencies and departments require co-ordination from the Ministry to operationalise the projects,” says En Ibrahim, who is Head of the Agriculture NKEA Secretariat.

A retired civil servant who has returned to serve at the MoA for the ETP, En Ibrahim notes that he receives personal satisfaction in seeing anchor companies which have signed on to implement EPPs commence production, such as in the area of fisheries or dairy production. It is then even more fulfilling when anchor companies are able to lead the projects and take small farmers under their wing.

“Initially, the process may be challenging, but the implementation concept is very good, and allows benefits to transcend big companies and reach the smaller farmers,” he adds.

The work of En Ibrahim and his team has also included preparing a standard template for anchor companies’ applications to participate in EPPs; and then evaluating those applications through a panel involving parties such as PEMANDU, banks, and the Economic Planning Unit. The team also participates in monthly meetings with the Delivery Management Office, tracking the progress of EPPs, problemsolving, and tackling issues that may arise in implementing the projects.

“One important function of the team is to assess the technical capability of prospective anchor companies. While most possess the financial capability, they may lack the technical expertise required to implement projects, which will hinder their sustainability in creating employment and contributing to GNI,” notes En Ibrahim.

Certainly, challenges do exist in overseeing the EPPs, including the amount of monitoring required, ensuring anchor companies deliver, and managing funds in the most efficient way. In the area of funding, he suggests allocations be locked in until 2020, instead of providing financing as and when necessary, as is the practice now. This is to ensure that the funds are available once participating companies have been approved, and to avoid delay in rolling out projects.

Nonetheless, En Ibrahim sees the ETP’s NKEAs and SRIs as a key component in the country’s march towards high-income status. “NKEAs should be viewed as part and parcel of Ministries from now on, with the accompanying EPPs and initiatives performing a crucial role in the Government’s overall economic development agenda,” he says.