A looming food import crisis


Sim (third left) representing several associations to hand over 500 PPE sets to Penang Hospital deputy director Dr Goh Hin Kwang (purple shirt) and assistant director Dr Wong Khar Ming (blue shirt).

THE Malaysian Government should look into the worldwide food security issues raised by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said former Agriculture and Agro-based Industry deputy minister Sim Tze Tzin.

He said the lockdown imposed by several countries had affected the global supply chain.

“People are finding it difficult to access quality and nutritious food.

“We urge the Government to look into the issues raised by the FAO.

“Malaysia imports RM50bil of food every year so when there is a global supply chain problem, we will be affected.

“For example, we import a lot of onions from India but now India is undergoing a national lockdown.

“Farmers there have difficulty transporting their onions from the rural areas to the cities and ports and finally to Malaysia,” he said.

Sim also said that Malaysia imports wheat from Australia, which has also enforced a lockdown due to Covid-19.

“Wheat is used to make bread and when wheat cannot reach us, then bread supply will be affected,” he said.

Sim was speaking after presenting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Penang Hospital on Thursday.

Sim added that FAO had highlighted the food security problems to countries worldwide.

“We leave it to the wisdom of the Malaysian Government to address these issues because the problem will only come two to three months down the road.

“For example, Vietnam is our major source of rice imports but now they have stopped new contracts.

“We don’t know when they will reopen contracts.

“So when the old contracts end eventually, then we will have a little bit of a problem,” he said, adding that as a result of Vietnam’s non-approval of new contracts since Feb 26, the price of Thai white rice has gone up by 30%.

The Bayan Baru MP clarified that there is no shortage of food in the world and that there is enough food for everyone.

“The problem is that food cannot be shipped out around the world because people are not working due to the lockdown and ports have reduced the number of officers issuing permits,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Sim urged all Malaysians to buy Malaysian products first to help local producers in this difficult time.

“We know the farmers, fishermen and poultry sellers all over the country are suffering,” said Sim.

“Due to the pandemic, their items cannot be sold and this has resulted in their produce being dumped,” he added.

Earlier, Sim represented several associations to hand over 500 PPE sets to the Penang Hospital.

He added the remaining 900 PPE sets would be shipped from China as soon as possible and that the cost of the PPE, including shipment, came up to around RM100,000.
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