Lately, Malaysia’s food production challenges have been in the spotlight due to rising food prices and shortages of certain foodstuffs that’s threatening the country’s food security.
Economist Dr. Barjoyai Bardai explained that current domestic production of rice met about 70% of the national requirement. Production of vegetables met only 44% of domestic requirements. This is despite our country having over 700,000 hectares of agricultural land.
Surprisingly, Malaysia’s inflation rate is still among the lowest globally at 2.8%, while food inflation is at 4%, according to Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Aziz. Tens of billions in public funds spent on subsidies is the reason for the low inflation rate.
Some quarters believe that subsidies are not sustainable. In fact, the government should also look at how land, policies, and technology can open up ways to incentivise farmers to grow more local produce and ensure food security.
Let’s explore the utilisation of land, policies, and technology to answer Malaysia’s food security question.
Securing LAND for food production
Efforts to strengthen the nation’s food security in terms of land use include:
- Developing idle land belonging to individuals, agencies, or state governments for agriculture
- Gazetting agricultural land as reserved land under Section 63 of the National Land Code, and subsequently leasing such land to farmers for 10 to 21 years
- Alienating land to agriculture-based state government subsidiaries, which would then be leased to farmers for a period of 30 years
- Maintaining the zoning of padi fields, and gazetting and developing permanent food production parks
- Forming district-level agricultural land development committees for the development of private agricultural land
Instituting POLICIES to tackle food insecurity
“The National Food Policy Action Plan 2021-2025 (DSMN Action Plan) is a strategy to secure our future food systems. It places heavy emphasis on digital transformation to ensure the sector can meet future demands. The goal is to forge a resilient, inclusive, competitive, and sustainable agro-food sector that is prepared to mitigate and manage food security crises and disruptions of agro-food value chains.” – Herizal Hazri, Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia (ISIS)
While the DSMN Action Plan aims to strengthen the resilience of the national food system through several initiatives, including the Smart Paddy Field Programme, it is also a strategy to support the implementation of the National Agro-Food Policy 2021-2030 (DAN 2.0) in terms of technology adoption and mechanisation.
Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ronald Kiandee expects the Smart Paddy Field Programme (Smart SBB) to increase farmers’ income up to 50% through complete infrastructure facilities and farm mechanisation.
That brings us to our last point – the use of technology to bolster Malaysia’s food security.
Planting new ideas with TECH acceleration
Malaysia’s capacity for agriculture is huge, but we are not using the right technology to maximise the capacity. To be self-sufficient in food, we must reduce the RM55 billion worth of food imported every year. This means we must increase local production using new and innovative solutions.
Through investment in Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) technologies and smart agriculture practices, the food supply chain can be managed more easily and efficiently in addition to maximising production. Some examples include:
- Precision agriculture and drone technology for better pesticide and fertiliser management
- Climate-smart agriculture for higher-yield crops that use less water
- Plantation management platform like Quarto to reduce wastage and risk of crop losses as well as to improve efficiency and overall profitability
Want to learn more about the Quarto platform and how it can benefit your agribusiness? Get in touch with us!