Growing agriculture sector for food security, income

Zahari visiting a sugar cane plantation in Segamat, Johor.

Johor has potential to become the food basket of Malaysia and a food source for neighbouring countries through the national food security agenda.

Johor agriculture, agro-based industry and rural development committee chairman Datuk Zahari Sarip said the state government had formed a food security committee last year and it would be in charge of planning Johor’s path towards this goal.

“We hope to develop a sustainable agro-food industry that can compete at the international level in terms of production and product quality.

“Johor has been the main producer of some of the country’s produce such as fruits, vegetables, chicken and eggs that have been exported to other countries, like Singapore and the Middle East,” he said.

If the government could organise and add value to this potential for growth, agriculture could become the main source of income for the state and improve the socioeconomic conditions of those involved in agriculture, he added.

To strengthen the Johor food security agenda, Zahari said the state planned to introduce seven initiatives in line with this target.

“We want to set up the Johor Agrofood Policy 2022-2030 and improve production of the country’s main produce, fisheries, especially aquaculture, and ruminant and milk-based products.

“Improving our agriculture entrepreneurs and involving more youth in the sector is also part of the plan, besides enhancing the whole ecosystem and food chain, producing high-quality agro products,” he elaborated.

All of these efforts would also lead to more investors coming into the state, which would in turn help the government develop a bigger project that would improve commerce and the local economy, said Zahari.

In order to improve the agriculture sector, he said the state had allocated 1,214ha of land to be developed with high-end agricultural activities both for the domestic and international markets.

“This project will have a direct economic impact on the farmers involved and the state government, in line with our mini agenda of ‘from farm to fork’.

“We hope this will also help attract more youths to the industry and make agriculture their main source of income,” he said, adding that there were 1.7 million youths in the state.

The use of technology in farming would also help entice more young people to be part of the industry, which is in line with the National Agrofood Policy 2021–2030, Zahari noted.

“Some of the farms in the country have started using drones to manage and maintain their plantations; the use of technology has improved the management of projects and reduced the cost of operation,” he highlighted.

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