Strict checks to be carried out on food products from China

As of now, there is no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted through food but  Malaysian authorities are not taking any chances.

KUALA LUMPUR: The agriculture and agro-based industry ministry has directed the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department (MAQIS) to conduct strict checks on food products from China at all entry points nationwide.

Minister Salahuddin Ayub said although Malaysia did not import any food products from Wuhan, China, which is the epicentre of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, and there was no evidence indicating the spread of the epidemic through food, security controls and inspections should be carried out as a precautionary measure.

“I was informed the infection could be transmitted from human to human and does not involve food but I have directed MAQIS to conduct checks at all entry points.

“At least from today they can carry out random checks on specific products such as meat or fruits,” he said after attending the Petronas and Agrobank Strategic Partnership: B40 Empowerment Programme signing ceremony here today.

The partnership offers micro-financing worth RM100 million to Bottom 40 micro-entrepreneurs in the agricultural and agro-based sectors. The financing investment allocated by the oil and gas company will be disbursed over five years and managed by Agrobank’s B40 micro-financing facilities programmes.

Also present at the ceremony were Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, Petronas president and chief executive officer (CEO) Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin and Agrobank president and CEO Khadijah Iskandar.

So far, there are four confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection reported in Malaysia.

On the collaboration between Agrobank and Petronas, Salahuddin described the move as a strategic partnership that boasts a significant impact on the country’s agricultural development.

He said for a period of five years, Petronas would invest RM100 million via its partnership with Agrobank to help some 3,000 entrepreneurs from low-income households (B40).

Earlier in her speech, Khadijah said the aim of the initiative was to empower the B40 group aimed at providing a better standard of living for them.

“At present, Agrobank has over 11 micro-finance programmes nationwide covering padi cultivation, chilli fertiliser, oil palm, dairy cows, and pineapple farming, among others,” she said, adding that financing would be given up to 100% from the entire operational cost at the bank’s lowest interest rate of 2% per annum.