An Assessment of Entrepreneurship Programme towards Modern Agri-Technology Usage in Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Problem Statement: Malaysia is generally driven by a service oriented industry whereby agriculture was placed at the third ranks of government economic priority. In the agriculture sector, the human capital empowerment has contributed towards
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  Asian Social Science; Vol. 10, No. 22; 2014 ISSN 1911-2017 E-ISSN 1911-2025 Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education 303 An Assessment of Entrepreneurship Programme towards Modern Agri-Technology Usage in Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia Muhammad Hafidz Abdul Raman 1 , Azizan Asmuni 3 , Khairuddin Idris 3 , Salmizi Saad 2  & Vikrul Adzim Azmin 1   1 Department of Agriculture Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia, UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia 2 Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia 3 Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia Correspondence: Muhammad Hafidz Abdul Raman, Department of Agriculture Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, 43300 UPM Serdang, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia. Tel: 60-3-8947-4961; 60-12-270-4429. E-mail:; Received: April 4, 2014 Accepted: August 26, 2014 Online Published: October 30, 2014 doi:10.5539/ass.v10n22p303 URL: Abstract Problem Statement:  Malaysia is generally driven by a service oriented industry whereby agriculture was placed at the third ranks of government economic priority. In the agriculture sector, the human capital empowerment has contributed towards agriculture productivity and production success which relates to those people involve in farming as farmers. Recent insight reviled that farmers with quality of an entrepreneur will largely to succeed in agriculture based business. Hence, a lot of agriculture based business depends on agriculture entrepreneur in Malaysia. Thus, an assessment study was done for one of entrepreneurship programme held in Serdang and its relation to entrepreneurship development in Malaysia. Methodology: The research design of this study employs qualitative research method. Data were gathered using social inquiry and in-depth interview techniques. It was used to develop a better understanding of the programme  particularly in aspects of course content, their individual perception, and personal experience towards the  programme. Sampling method was done via a purposive sampling. Five respondents were chosen and interviewed. Findings and discussions:  The interviews of respondents indicated most of farmers or agri-entrepreneur was male, ranging age from 20 to 50 years old and majority mean of agriculture field experience is three years. They  became an entrepreneur by inner intuition, learn farming from their parents, and one of them had influenced by his surrounding environments. They were highly specialized in their field, business minded, and very committed to their business venture. All respondents know how to use the technological application of fertigation planting system in growing crops. Finding also shows early acceptance of mediated change to entrepreneurs whereby improving their knowledge, attitude and skill. Thus, entrepreneurship values showed in them are; 1) must have  planning and aim, 2) past farming experience, 3) believed in their self, and 4) continue and eager to improve the farming business. This study shows one can succeed in doing business venture through the will power, able to control focus on aims and later will generate profit thereafter. As to succeed in life, they only have to continue  pushing the limits and sustainability of their business. Conclusions:  The entire respondent shows improvement after the incubation programme and after finish the  programme they become a successful entrepreneur where the evidence by their actions for at past, present experience, and in their future aims. This programme is a good programme meant to be as intermediary  programme where improving the life of farmers and nurtured them becoming an experience agri-technology entrepreneur. Keywords: extension education, entrepreneurship development, agriculture technology, technology usage 1. Introduction Malaysia is generally driven by a service oriented industry whereby agriculture was placed at third ranks of government economic priority (Malaysian Statistics, 2010). Today, farmers are facing with an ever-expanding knowledge base of agriculture production and technological advancement. Thus, this develops serious arguments Asian Social Science Vol. 10, No. 22; 2014 304 to strengthen farmers at the first place as well as develop extension educators towards developing human capital for the country. The entrepreneurship segment has led an important role in shaping our agriculture sector  productivity, the GDP contribution, foreign exchange, and human capital development since 1957 Independence Day (MOA, 2010). Recent insight reviled that farmers with quality of an entrepreneur will largely to succeed in agriculture based business. The Productivity Report proves that to increase productivity, the actors who run the systems need to be empowered (MPC, 2013). As in the case of Malaysia, the entrepreneur programmme focuses on developing human capital for the agriculture industry. These types of programme always have an incubation  period where growth progression of which people adopt technology through effective training and obtain agribusiness knowledge by using hands-on techniques. However, this study attempts to assess the programme in context of extension programme towards participation, reaction of farmers, and the training effectiveness. Agriculture productivity can be increased through an adoption of technology, good agriculture practices, and the farmers’ internal strength. Thus, an assessment study was done for one of entrepreneurship programme held in Serdang and its relation to entrepreneurship development in Malaysia. 1.1 Problem Statement In agriculture industry, a lot of agriculture based business depends on agriculture entrepreneur in Malaysia. Thus, the extension education is very important to stir the direction of agriculture development. There is a great concern for increasing agriculture production to meet the country’s supply and demand. Rahim Md. Sail (2008) agreed that the level of technology adoption among farmers is still low especially on modern agriculture  practices and it was the main factor contributes to low production of food crops. It is believed that the reduction in the yield gap can be accomplished by uptake of high yielding crop, usage of improved crop planting techniques and farm management. Thus, the key essence for agriculture success is to develop the human capital  by focusing on the training programme. Only through an effective training would help the farmers excel and upgrade their skills to become an entrepreneur. 1.2 Background of the Study Agriculture Youth Entrepreneur Incubation Programmme (AYEIP) is a programme aim to provide training and  practices intended for youth that interested in agriculture field. This programme was established following the government policies to improve agriculture delivery service system controlled by Department of Agriculture (DOA) and funded under the Nine Malaysian Plan (Government of Malaysia, 2006). The programme outlines  provide agriculture coaching and offer a ‘hands-on’ experience on farming knowledge. The AYEIP programme were located in DOA with two centers in Serdang and later has expanded in Kuala Lipis, Pahang; Titi Gantong, Perak and Center for Training Development and Extension in Besut, Terengganu. The programme target group range from age 18 to 35 years old or an agriculture institute graduates, university graduates, among youth, any general Malaysian citizen, and police retiree or pension army personnel (special requirements needed). The  participants have to attend programme in full time basis and must finish eight months incubation at DOA. The entrepreneur who passed stringent training, possessed qualities and the incubation programme will be granted with a space for starting agribusiness at Permanent Food Production Park (PFPP) facility. The programme at PFPP is part of government strategic policy to develop a permanent zone for food productions in a large scale, commercial with high agri-technology practices, to cope with the demand on farm goods and health consciousness of the growing population. The project in Serdang holds a total acreage of 53.5 hectares with only 3.5 hectares is utilized by sharing land between 10 individual agriculture entrepreneurs. 1.3 Research Objectives The primary objective of this study is to determine the achievement of extension programme by assessing farmer’s accomplishment on entrepreneurship development and the usage of technology in their farm at PFPP, Serdang. The specific objectives are as follows: 1)   To find out participation reasons among farmers in the programme; 2)   To determine characteristics of entrepreneurship inside respondents; 3)   To determine entrepreneurship programme strategies and training methods. 2. Literature Review Most prominent, a young entrepreneur usually non-adequate in experience will seek for advisors or training experts that could give them guidance on technical knowledge about farming practices as to manage their  business. In perspective of agriculture sustainability, the industry can only sustain production by ensuring the farmers are replenish, retrain, fully equipped them with new modern agricultural technologies and extension organization supports by providing trainings to them. Asian Social Science Vol. 10, No. 22; 2014 305 2.1 Difference of Extension Education, Services and Programmes Extension education in general is defined as a field of study dealing with informal education directed at the improvement of welfare of rural people. It also describes as a process of dissemination of useful information from research institution to the rural clientele through an extension delivery system for improving economic well-being of target group. According to Boone (1990), extension is human processes where technical information are fused together with one to another, integrated and planned to facilitate rural people achieve their full potentials. Further describe by Jon Chang Hong (1994) said that extension education largely emphasized on human as interface in technology transfer and they adopt new ideas. In reality of an extension system, it is the role of any entrepreneurship institution to facilitate the trainees by giving extension services. The entrepreneurship institution acts as a network bridge between scientists, the extension personnel and farmers or the clientele, where they meet together, changing information about new techniques to the farmers, exchange thoughts on modern farming, and sharing their problem to the scientists (Jitendra, 2007). However, the all of these activities is considered in planning of an extension programme with the purpose of helping entrepreneur to succeed in the programme. 2.2 Difference of Extension Specialist, Extensionist and Extension Worker These three terms usually describe as important pertaining subject that have distinctive difference between one and another. First, the extension specialist’s role is at the top management of institution where policies being drafted through outlining the mission and vision in extension agencies, who usually an qualified academician with specialization in extension education, programme planning, coaching, training of extension personnel, developing new extension methods, and other inter-related extension disciplines. Second, agriculture officer in government extension agencies is known as extensionist or extension educator, who involved in planning, has subordinate staff or extension workers, run implementation of extension programmes, acts as middleman where information were gathered, and distribute it to entrepreneur in training and assisted briefing session. As for the extension worker, they are the front runner level, meet face to face with farmers, and carry out all sorts of job  pertaining to farmers satisfactory and their request. 2.3 Agriculture Technology and Adoption through Technology Transfer Approach Technology is a study mechanical arts and applied sciences involving the development of technical knowledge. Technology is subjective and neutral. It should be perceived as medium for application of new improve method, additional ways of doing things (Jain & Triandis, 1990) and expansion of new ideas that reliable to be use in any conditions (Ahmad, 2007). In addition, Hamilton and Singh (1992) defined technology transfer as the process of movement or transfer of information, technical know-how, and people among technical group functions. For some, technology basically referred to product offering by the technology producers (Khalil & Berman, 1992). In agriculture perspective, farmers who wants to acquire agriculture technology needs to have values such as technology savvy and competent, easy technology acceptance, knowledgeable and ability to maintain the technology after acquiring it (Scott, 1992). 2.4 Entrepreneurial Skills and Development According to McElwee and Robson (2005), suggested three types of skills that farmers should have in order to succeed in their business such as the entrepreneurial, managerial and technical efficacy of farming skills. Smilor (1997) and Kilby (1971) states that entrepreneurial skills develops from owner’s activities, practical know-how for establishing and running a successful business; such as finance, accounting, marketing and production. There also some researchers describe them by values such as innovation, risk-taking, rational way of thinking, reasoning and opportunist (Timmons, 1999; Chen, 1998). However, the most important are the functional skills such as salesmanship and meta-task-level skill and most vital are recognizing hardship commitments that drive them towards success and sustainability of agribusiness (McElwee & Bosworth, 2010). 2.5 Conceptual Framework Leagans (1961)’s defined extension education as an applied science consisting of contents derived from researches, accumulated field experiences and relevant principles drawn from the behavioral sciences, and combine with useful technology. In this study, the conceptual framework shows hypothetical relationship among variables applied and determines the agri-entrepreneur reaction towards issues related to them, usage of technology in their farm, and effect of training programme to their way of working (Figure 1). Base on review of literature, we have identified some main variables for determine the objective addressed (Appendix B). The dependent variable is agri-entrepreneur or farmers, where peoples who make money by running and administrating agriculture businesses in cost conscious practice and financially risk takers. Meanwhile the Asian Social Science Vol. 10, No. 22; 2014 306 independent variables are extension education absorption on knowledge, attitude, and skills, self-motivation, entrepreneurship values, barriers and challenges to participation, training programme (e.g. courses), technology application (e.g. GAP), personal control, and self-efficacy. For this study, thematic assessments were made on  participation, reactions and individual changes (Summers, 1977). However, farm business, the nature of agriculture entrepreneur role, and the foundation behind the role of entrepreneurial were determined by focusing on relevant dimensions that characterized ones as an agriculture entrepreneur. Figure 1. Conceptual framework 3. Methodology For research purposes, this study is a qualitative research design. It was used to develop a better understanding of AYEIP programme in aspects of programme planning and its implementation from the personal experience of the instructor and the participants of the programme. Sampling was made using a purposive sampling (Patton, 2002). Data were gathered using social inquiry (Byron et al., 1975) and in-depth interview techniques. The reasons are to locate fruitful information in participant of the programme, their planning and learning experiences especially for better understanding of AYEIP programme in aspects of course content and perception of individuals towards the programme. All the potential respondent name and contact number were taken for arranging interview session based on their best suitable time. Sometime, one of them likes to be interviewed in leisure time at a restaurant near the Serdang town area. The respondents were the extension personnel and also four participants. The interview session was held following the respondent time and place as he/she wishes in face-to-face session. The interview session were conducted in Bahasa Malaysia at approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Digital recordings were made and all of them agreed to be recorded. Researcher also has taken some notes during conversation and it was summarized after the interview session. The entire respondent was very helpful and they also give the researcher a tour visit to their farm. After the interview session ends, researcher thanks each of the respondents for participating in this case study. All respondents have given their consent for the use of their information and no real names in the finding were used as to preserve anonymity. The study also used techniques such as prolong engagement, peer debriefing and member connections for ensuring the credibility of the findings. 4. Findings and Discussion This programme used andragogy approach that support Malcolm S. Knowles (1973) assumptions. AYEIP entrepreneurs are highly interested, have aims, greatly motivated and being carefully selected for the programme. In 2011, AYEIP programme were declined trend of success where only thirty percent still maintain running agribusiness at Serdang PFPP and others leave to run their own farm in their village. Some of non-successor leave the field and jump into job employment. In upcoming years, this programme will not continue to be fund  by the government, but the DOA will invite more existing farmers back to their center in Serdang at PFPP. Recent news informed by Faisal, the government willing to continue this programme with renewed system and refreshed strategies to draw braver participant. From the interview sessions, the informant was reporting about their life story and the researcher records all of the explanation and saying. Thus, the result were simplified and arranged in thematic summary for easy explanation which has been taken from the voice records. The findings from in-depth interviews from four agri-entrepreneur indicated that most of farmers aka agri-entrepreneur were male, ranging age from 20s to 50s years old and majority mean of experience is 3 years in the agriculture field (Appendix A). They became an Agri-Entrepreneur/FarmersINDIVIDUAL CHANGES 1.   KAS-Knowledge, Attitude and Skills 2.   Self-Motivation:-    Inner    External 3.   Entrepreneurship Values   REACTIONS 1.   Training Program (Courses)  2.   Technology Application (GAP) 3.   Personal control and self-efficacy   PARTICIPATION 1.   Barriers to Participation 2.   Challenges to Participation Asian Social Science Vol. 10, No. 22; 2014 307 entrepreneur by inner intuition and learning from their parents and one of them had influence by his surrounding environments. They were highly specialized in their field, and for some; they are very committed to their  business venture. All of them used technological application that is the fertigation techniques in planting crops system. On in-depth interview findings shows early acceptance of mediated change to entrepreneurs whereby improving knowledge, attitude and skill. Results also in-line with Levine (2005) theory of fundamental of success where they know about their role in the industry, they are cost conscious, keeps updated records, have business development plan, , know how to deliver results, have self-confidence, self-respect, know what they wants and have gained their very own perspective in style of doing agriculture business. However, they are quiet shy on communication with the outsider especially to people which have high educational background. These shows they might needed to further invest on prolonged relationships and network search ability. It is because customer will not come if the seller is not nicer and do not have the power of attraction. 4.1 Reasons for Participating in the Programme Reasons for their involvement are diverse. According to Ali said that, “  I interested in joining this programme because to improve myself and I have to support my parent due to our less income .” Moreover for Bakar, he explained, “My parent does not have much income…..we (parents) only do farming in our small land…..the income just enough to support our basic needs monthly……so I did join this programme to make something new  for myself….none of my sibling is farmer, all of them (sibling) work either with government and private company…..but for me the likes of being businessman, as well as supports the family and become independent in doing business venture with the help of government….who want to miss that chances.”  This proves that no force imposed to become agri-entrepreneur from joining the programme, following the  philosophy of participation and self-help. Ali shows an evident of principles of interest and needs. He has  personal control and aware of the challenges opposed to them which supports the theory of planned behavior by Icek Ajzen (2002) research that aligned with principle of participation. The outcome from reasons they gave showed by their determination to succeed in agribusiness and increased in income at PFPP, where Ali and Bakar was indeed at average RM10,000 in income per cycle of production and they even want more. 4.1.1 Challenges and Barriers of Participation From the interview of respondent, Ali (not real name) explained, “Many….there are many of participant could not withstand the challenge…..a lot of activities were done in bright sunny day and all the time we do it by our own self……. in fertigation system ...all activities. Maybe for some…..this work is hard for them.”  He further added that “Participants withdrawn from the programme…..due to reasons such as already have another job, want to do business in the village, health problem of old parents, space are limited at PFPP and only selected participant with good qualities…… so this is the challenge……maybe they want to see whether who have the ability or not.”  Bakar added more explanation, “ True, there are many reasons participant give…..I just want to quote…..there are cases here where success farmer that institute believe can ready to move on to real world but after being  place to other location or move to do business outside this place…..they eventually not succeed….from their explanation, they said factors such as land, finance or fund, cost of inputs, high infrastructure price, and market  price uncertainties of crop they planted…..that is the first basis for establishing agriculture business.”  The finding shows that the agriculture business is a high risk venture especially when they used the fertigation technology in farming crops. In Ali and Bakar, they somehow able to manage their idealistic needs, local responsibility and characters with their business culture. The challenges and barriers showed in them are their age, health conditions, body strength, land, finance or fund, cost of inputs, high infrastructure price, and uncertainties of crop prices. 4.1.2 Farmers Motivation The majority of entrepreneur can be categorized in activity-oriented learners which explain by their action more towards farming activities rather than exploring to other aspects. Similar concept by Raymond (1999  ) , the findings shows they actually learn through motivation that comes from inner intuition. According to Latif, “I was a troublesome during my younger age…..and I manage to be the best of what I can do right now… I know from my friend about this programme…… I gain interest in this programme….long before them (Ali and Bakar) were in the programme….but at that time I was still working with one of public cooperative company and I as the chief operation officer there. Later, after I have paid all my debts at the banks…….I said to
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