Where’s the beef?

RM74 million was allocated to develop and operate a National Feedlot Centre (NFC) in Gemas, Negri Sembilan under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry. The rationale for the NFC is to develop a capability to produce more beef locally and cut down on imports. However, according to the 2010 Auditor-General’s report the NFC has turned into a mess.

A private company, National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp) was appointed as the integrator of the project. However, not only has it not achieved its target of producing 8,000 cattle in 2010 it has also failed to undertake the following according to its agreement with the Ministry:

– set up an Entrepreneur Development Programme to train 130 satellite farmers
– build a livestock feed factory
– build a biogas factory to process waste into fuel for the farm

Between 2007 and 2010 a total of RM48.71 million out of the RM74 million allocated has already been spent. In addition, a soft loan of RM250 million was given to NFCorp at an interest rate of 2%.

Interestingly, according to media reports the parent company of NFCorp is owned by the husband of the Women, Family and Community Development minister, Shahrizat Jalil. Shahrizat’s children also hold key positions in NFCorp. One of her children is the CEO while two others are executive directors.

The big question is after spending so much taxpayers’ money on the project and providing a huge soft loan of RM250 million to a private company WHAT DOES THE COUNTRY GET IN RETURN? Is there more supply of beef in the market? Are they any cheaper? Are we now in a better position in terms of self-sufficiency?

According to some reports, roughly 1,500 cows need to be slaughtered each day to satisfy 40% of the demand. In the NFC, it was found that only 20 are slaughtered daily. In fact, smaller scale farmers who are not getting any government assistance are running bigger and more effective operation in beef production.

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