Corporate Responsibility

Maybank & MARDI signs MoU to drive innovation and sustainable development in urban agriculture

22 June 2023

7-min read

Group intensifies urban farming initiatives to address food security, poverty reduction and improved urban environmental management


Maybank and the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in continuing to drive innovation and sustainable development in the urban agriculture sector which will benefit communities in need, address environmental challenges and promote a sustainable lifestyle in urban areas of the region.

 The agreement was inked by Datuk Nora Abd Manaf, Group Chief Human Capital Officer Maybank and Dato’ Dr Mohamad Zabawi, Director General of MARDI at Maybank Academy in Bangi, Selangor.

The agreement was inked by Datuk Nora Abd Manaf, Group Chief Human Capital Officer Maybank and Dato’ Dr Mohamad Zabawi, Director General of MARDI at Maybank Academy in Bangi, Selangor.


The MoU serves to close partnership in keys areas such as:


  • Organising and conducting training on Urban Farming, implementing enhanced capacity building initiatives and developing comprehensive and updated training modules.
  • Integration of knowledge systems in urban farming initiatives with increased knowledge, data and information sharing, lessons learned, best practice as well as driving the urban farming activities for wider communities.
  • Exploring potential programmes and projects which will benefit the communities and beneficiaries.
  • Transferring Urban Farming technologies and green infrastructure applications from MARDI to Maybank and its communities.


Through the partnership, Maybank also aims to deliver both tangible and intangible benefits to communities. Maybank's regional capabilities enable the scaling of urban farming initiatives, thereby amplifying the positive social impact on urban areas and contributing to improved livelihoods. By addressing food security, creating employment opportunities, and promoting community engagement, Maybank demonstrates its strength in driving sustainable development and fostering positive change in society.


For MARDI, the strategic cooperation with Maybank will primarily focus on executing urban farming programmes which provides exposure to Maybank staff who are interested in the field of agriculture and entrepreneurship. The programme consist of training courses, hands-on activities, guidance from certified and experienced researchers and the opportunity to obtain business plans. In addition, the collaboration is also expected to accelerate the use of innovated farming technology directly to young entrepreneurs in Malaysia including Maybank staff.


Datuk Nora said "We are honoured to be collaborating with MARDI, whose expertise has been instrumental in shaping and refining Maybank’s urban farming initiatives since 2016. This MoU exemplifies and officiates our shared commitment to supporting communities in need and driving positive change. By pooling our resources and knowledge, we are poised to create a future where sustainability and improved livelihoods coexist harmoniously."


“Maybank’s Urban Farm initiative is aligned with Maybank's M25+ strategy to drive differentiated sustainable long-term growth. It aims to make significant impact by aligning with several Sustainable Development Goals under the United Nations' agenda, including Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12), and Climate Action (SDG 13),” added Datuk Nora.


In 2016, the Maybank Urban Farm was initiated on the peripheral slopes surrounding Menara Maybank, in which the Group embarked on a mission—to equip Maybankers and Cahaya Kasih, (Maybank’s flagship employee volunteerism initiative) beneficiaries with essential skills for survival. More than 250 kilogrammes of vegetables were harvested as a result of 828 total man-hours spent on the project. Following this initiative, a number of Maybank’s beneficiaries have since started their own urban farms. The main objective of Maybank Urban Farm was to champion urban farming as the solution for food security, poverty reduction, and improved urban environmental management. The Urban Farm also promotes community cohesion as it acts as a common space for people to come together to bridge gaps, reduce existing tensions and build a shared sense of belonging.


In 2018, Maybank’s urban farm was relocated to a larger area within Maybank Academy where the official urban farming course was taught to nearly 1,500 Maybankers across 57 sessions. Maybank introduced an enhanced Maybank Urban Farming framework—integrating the existing pillars of Cahaya Kasih and Learning Hub and adding a new dimension—GO Ahead. Take Charge! (GATC) which is a platform consisting of various initiatives designed to help employees adapt and be agile in the changing workplace environment. The GATC pillar covered the entrepreneurial aspects of urban farming, offering those interested the opportunity to explore it as a business venture.


To counter challenges of the pandemic, Maybank also launched the Maybank Urban Farming Virtual Series. Through interactive modules, Zoom meetings and personalised coaching sessions, Maybank ensured that learning and engagement continued. To date, Maybank has developed and launched Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Urban Farming sessions which are conducted in-person, along with seven BASIC Urban Farming virtual series modules. Currently, Maybank has trained over 3,900 participants in-person and virtually, including more than 400 participants from communities, beneficiaries and those in need.


In 2022, Maybank launched three ground-breaking initiatives—MART, Smart Farming and Maybank Urban Farm Galleries. The Maybank Virtual Market became a vibrant platform for employees to sell, trade, or share their home-grown products. The hours taken to produce these products were recorded as contribution to Maybank’s Commitment 4’s goal of Living Sustainability by Achieving 1 Million Hours per annum for Sustainability & Delivering 1 Thousand Significant SDG-Related Outcomes by 2025. The total number of sustainability hours to date since 2021 is over 3 million, out of which 6,199 is the total number of hours dedicated towards urban farming.  In May 2023, Maybank piloted a new intermediate session called "Kursus Penanaman Bawang, Kobis Bulat dan Kobis Bunga" (Onion, Cabbage, and Cauliflower Cultivation Course) to Maybank’s Urban Farm alumni.


Datuk Nora said “Our impact has been profound, particularly at PPR Kerinchi in Kuala Lumpur under the Maybank Urban Farm Outreach initiative. Through urban farming sessions, 120 asnaf were able to significantly reduce household expenses with tangible results. An astonishing 75% of participants declared that they managed to save a considerable amount on their monthly groceries.”


“And the journey doesn’t stop there, we have plans to extend the Maybank Urban Farm Outreach to Politeknik Sabak Bernam, targeting asnaf and B40 students to be part of this transformative project,” added Datuk Nora.