II. NATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
The objectives of the Ministry of Agriculture are:
The functions of the ministry include:
The ministry comprises the following departments and agencies:
MARDI was established in 1969 to undertake research and development of technologies to assist in modernizing the agricultural sector and improving the incomes of farmers. The responsibilities of MARDI include developing and promoting appropriate technologies for increasing efficiency and productivity in order to strengthen economic development while also protecting the quality of the environment.
Research at the institute involve various aspects of scientific, economic and sociological activities related to all commodities except rubber and oil palm. The institute is required to provide advice and expertise in relation to scientific research as well as the technical aspects and extension of agricultural businesses. The institute researchers are located at research stations throughout the country.
As part of the development of the cocoa industry, MARDI is undertaking research and development programmes in place of the Malaysian Cocoa Board since the latter is still in the infancy stage of development. The types of research and development efforts being undertaken by the institute include increasing the productivity and quality of cocoa products in order to reduce the disparity in smallholder production levels, as well as introducing more efficient technology in the production and post-harvest management of cocoa products.
Various research programmes being carried out by MARDI researchers include accumulating and improving cocoa genetic stocks, studying the physiological aspects of the cocoa plant, testing systematic production technologies, improving production in problem areas and increasing the quality of cocoa beans. Technology transfer is undertaken by a special Technology Promotion Unit within the institute. The targets of the unit include farmers and government agencies involved in the sector and entrepreneurs (individual as well as firms) that are directly or indirectly associated in activities related to cocoa production.
In addition to the Technology Promotion Unit, other units at the institute are involved in research on the production and processing of cocoa. They include the Basic Research Unit, the Biochemical Unit, the Social and Techno-Economy Unit and the Food Technology Unit. Research on cocoa products and by-products of cocoa are being undertaken by the Food Technology Unit, with the aim of encouraging downstream activities in the cocoa sector.