Malaysia needs a university that focuses on agriculture in a bid to produce experts and specialists in the sector for the future, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub.
He said there was a need to rethink whether to establish a new agricultural university or restore Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) back to its early days where the emphasis was solely on agriculture.
Salahuddin said the university’s function would be to enhance skills, knowledge and technology in agriculture to graduates and farmers, quite similar to the Chulalongkorn University and Chiangmai University in Thailand.
He said the decision on the matter would depend on the discussions between his ministry and UPM to reach an understanding before the proposal was submitted to the Education Ministry.
“Most importantly, we must look at the country’s financial situation, but if UPM agrees to return the focus to agriculture, then it's better as we just have to make modifications to the modules and approaches that the university already has,” he said after launching a programme to strengthen agricultural expansion at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) in Serdang yesterday.
UPM, formerly known as Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, initially emphasised on forestry and veterinary fields as well as research in agriculture, but its focus changed in the late 1990s and it branched out into other fields including science and information technology.