B - Cost of Living B10. Food Production

B10-01: Re-evaluate Malaysia’s Food Security Policy

May 10, 2018
In progress
Jun 2018

Food security is a priority, says Salahuddin

The Malaysian Insight June 13, 2018

THE government will focus on increasing food productivity and security, as well as minimising bureaucracy over the next three years, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub. He said the government was committed to mobilise appropriate initiatives in ensuring adequate food supply in the country, as well as to ensure the national food safety index met United Nations (UN) standards. “My focus, in terms of implementation, is to ensure that the rice sector can be revived drastically towards having a more efficient local supply, and to ensure the local meat production reaches 30% of needs. “The government will improve the technology in the rice industry. We will also make a reform of all the bureaucracy issues related to rice supply, including to think of ways to increase the budget and subsidy for padi planters and farmers,” he said in an interview with Bernama yesterday. Salahuddin said to ensure food security was at a satisfactory level, the country's food production had to be intensified so that the farmers and fishermen could improve their livelihood. “If national production is efficient, this will reduce the risks in food security as the government is told that food stocks in Malaysia can only last for a maximum of three months if rice imports come to a halt or in case of a disaster or war. “Compared to Thailand, their food supply can last up to eight months, while China is one year. This is our concern because the ministry is responsible in ensuring that food supplies are enough for the people regardless of any situation,” he said. Salahuddin said in efforts by the government to expand the national output, the import of food should also be reduced. – Bernama, June 13, 2018.

PROMISE UPDATE: Policy making In-Progress

Jun 2018

[OPINION] Malaysia has sufficient supply of rice: Agri ministry

The Sun Daily June 13, 2018

Malaysia faces no problems in terms of sufficient supply of rice in the country, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry said today. The secretary of the ministry's Paddy and Rice Industry Division, Shamsuddin Ismail, said the country produced 73% of its rice needs and the rest was met with imports under long-term contracts. "However, in order to guarantee food security, the government is conducting a holistic study on the management of the national paddy and rice industry," he said in a statement released today in response to a media report yesterday questioning whether there was a shortage of rice. Shamsuddin said that in providing the best direction, the government would seek the opinion of the National Agriculture Advisory Council and the views of those involved in the industry. "An in-depth study has to be done because the import of rice has to be well managed to ensure that the supply of rice is not jeopardised," he said. Shamsuddin said the new direction in the management of the national paddy and rice industry would focus on the management of buffer stocks, management of subsidies and incentives, import of rice, quality, and farmers' welfare. — Bernama

Jun 2018

Malaysia to beef up food security, curb reliance on imports

The Edge Markets June 12, 2018

Malaysia is looking to strengthen food security and cut reliance on food imports, according to the country’s newly-elected Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry. “My main target is to ensure that there is enough food in this country” and that there is ample supply of sterile, affordable and accessible food, Salahuddin Ayub said in an interview with Bloomberg in Kuala Lumpur. That includes increasing domestic rice stockpiles, which can currently only sustain the country for 22 days, and compares to about six months in Vietnam and 10 months in China, he said. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad swept to power in a surprise election win last month, ousting a coalition in power for 61 years. His newly-formed government has since moved to fulfill campaign pledges including scrapping a goods and services tax and reviewing big-bang infrastructure projects and government spending. Salahuddin was sworn in on May 21 and is the deputy president of the National Trust Party, known as Amanah, and the member of parliament for Pulai, a constituency in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor. There are 15 related agencies under his ministry. Rice Measures Malaysia’s rice production supplies about 72% of its consumption needs, while the rest is imported, mainly from Thailand and Vietnam, Salahuddin said. The government wants to reduce reliance on imports to 10% to 15% of its needs in the next three to five years, he said. Malaysia will maintain food security by ensuring there is enough supply to meet needs during any unforeseen circumstances, he said. “We will have a special discussion for us to zero in on what went wrong with our paddy industry,” he said on Monday. “We should encourage more support to the local farmers so we can increase their productivity and be less dependent on imports.” To boost rice yields, funding will be spent on improving irrigation, increasing use of organic fertilizers that are environmentally-friendly and upgrading technology, Salahuddin said. Other reforms include reviewing options to abolish Padiberas Nasional Bhd’s sole rights to import rice by the end of 2020. A national agriculture advisory council, alongside the ministry, will look at replacing its monopoly with a new agreement, he said. Feedlots, Wages The government will spend RM300 million (US$75.2 million) to revive Malaysia’s national feedlot initiative, a cattle-breeding project that aims to develop a local beef industry, according to Salahuddin. Increasing local meat output will reduce imports that account for 70% of consumption. Malaysia’s pledge to boost minimum wages will increase farmer incomes and alleviate a labor shortage in the agriculture industry, Salahuddin said, adding that it as an obligation that the government must meet. An announcement on wages is expected by August and CIMB Investment Bank Bhd has said the palm oil industry could be one of the worst hit by the plan. The country is the world’s second-biggest grower. There should be laws that facilitate discussions between the government and private sector to set reasonable wages for local workers, according to Salahuddin. “This will help in the long run, but we must start today. We cannot ignore it and always depend on foreign workers.”