The Malaysian government is working towards increasing the country's self-sufficiency level (SSL) in fresh milk production to 100 per cent in five years through the National Dairy Industry Development Programme.

A new income source initiative, the programme is aimed at strengthening and boosting the Malaysian dairy industry, said Agriculture and Food Industries Deputy Minister (I), Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah, at a press conference after visiting The Holstein Milk Company Sdn Bhd (The Holstein) farm and processing plant in Muadzam Shah, Pahang, today.

The company's managing director, Loi Tuan Ee, and operations director, Azmi Zainal, accompanied him on the tour.

He said the Muadzam (Pahang), Muallim and Larut-Matang-Selama (Perak), Ulu Bernam (Selangor) and Borneo (Sabah) dairy valleys are and will be involved in the effort to escalate fresh milk production.

"The programme aims to increase the country's fresh milk production by 20 million litres in five years through the import of 10,000 breeder dairy cows, thereby reducing dependence on imported milk.

"Malaysia's fresh milk consumption last year was 68.8 million litres, with 40.6 million litres produced in the country and the rest imported from Australia and New Zealand," he said.

For the purpose of information, according to the 2019 Veterinary Services Department livestock statistical data, the estimated SSL for fresh milk was 59 per cent.

Ahmad said the first phase of the programme at the Muadzam dairy valley has the participation of eight big-scale entrepreneurs and 41 small-scale entrepreneurs from Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Johor.

"The eight big-scale entrepreneurs, including The Holstein, received incentives in the form of pregnant dairy cows and dairy equipment worth RM3.93 million, with the refinancing method at a 70:30 ratio between the producers and government.

"And beginning last year, each small-scale entrepreneur received pregnant dairy cows and dairy equipment worth RM119,000, with a financing ratio of 70:30 between the government and producers," he said.

He added that The Holstein will begin land clearing in the Larut-Matang-Selama dairy valley next month to further strengthen its position as the country's biggest fresh milk producer.

Ahmad said fresh milk from here is for distribution in the north of the country, while milk from Muadzam goes to the east coast and Klang Valley.