The Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water will provide the rural community comprising smallholders, landowners and farmers with guidance and advice on using green technology to develop high-value products from biomass, including energy.
Its Deputy Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, said the ministry's goal was not just to promote sustainable development, but also facilitate the green economy by showing how it can contribute to economic growth.
"Rural communities have talent and resources, while not being strangers to hard work. "If they can only transform their mindset to a more entrepreneurial bent, and organise themselves accordingly, they can capitalise on new opportunities," he told Bernama in an interview Friday.
This, he said, is a quantum leap from the current mindset of depending on assistance and the ability of farmers to produce energy is a whole new economy which could help liberate them economically.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced an allocation increase of RM2 billion, for the Green Technology Financing Scheme (GTFS). The total allocation for this effort now stands at RM3.5 billion. This is meant as an incentive to small and medium industries and enterprises (SMI & SMEs) to increase the creation of green tech-based products and services.
"We see great potential in this industry. This is the new economy, a knowledge-based economy," Mahdzhir said. He also said the government launched the 1Malaysia Biomass Alternative Strategy Initiative (1MBAS) last year to benefit Malaysians, especially smallholders and farmers.
The biomass industry will grow rapidly in the next few years and is projected to be an important contributor to the energy sector, moreso with petroleum reserves to run out in less than 20 years. As a result, demand for alternative energy sources will surely increase.
"We have target the production of 800 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. This requires 6-9 million tonnes of biomass (and) this amount would translate into about RM9 billion in Gross national Income (GNI).
"Biomass is thus poised to play a very important part in our economic future," said Mahdzhir. He said that green technology could facilitate the agricultural sector, which already contributes 12 per cent to Gross National Income (GNI), to play an even greater role in ensuring Malaysia meets the high-income nation target under the Economic Transformation Program (ETP).
Over the long-term, empowering the rural communities through the biomass sector would uplift their standard of living, as well as generate economic activity with tremendous downstream potential. Besides this, the implementation of the National Biomass Strategy is expected to create up to 66,000 new jobs by 2020, a variety of skills, from manual labor to areas of research and development and engineering.
Of this, the biomass pellet industry alone is expected to contribute 12,300 direct and indirect jobs.
"Here, we can imagine how this sector will change the landscape of the Malaysian economy," Mahdzhir said.