Stepping up food security

A young farmer operating a DJI agricultural drone in Thailand. Malaysia is hoping to train more young people here for the smart agriculture and agro-food sectors. — Xinhua

RAMPING up youth participation in the smart agriculture and agro-food sectors is key to the government’s effort to boost the country’s food security.

The strategy includes gearing agricultural training institutes to equip youths skilled in research and development, other than technology, says the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry.

Correspondingly, the ministry’s Agropreneur Muda programme will aid participants to network with market access platforms, both online and offline, to ensure consistent availability of products.

“They can showcase and sell their products including participation in agricultural showcases and online marketplaces. Through the programme, participants will be facilitated to networking events that connect young agropreneurs with experienced mentors, agricultural experts and potential business partners.”

At the same time, the programme will train the new generation of leaders in the agricultural sector through the integration of sustainability practices.

“The integration of sustainability principles ensures that our agricultural practices contribute to participants’ well-being and their economic viability.

“This is done by assisting participants in obtaining and complying with sustainable agriculture certifications and standards and emphasising resource-efficient practices, such as smart farming, to optimise the use of inputs like water, fertilisers and energy,” the ministry notes.

According to the ministry, Malaysia is focusing on the aspects of access, availability, utilisation as well as sustainability and stability to bolster food security in line with the National Food Security Policy Action Plan 2021-2025 and the National Agri-Food Policy 2021-2030 (NAP 2.0).

The first of three main targets on the cards is strengthening the said aspects within the aquaculture sector, with the prime objective of increasing fish landings to over 60% of the self-sufficiency level.

Malaysia is active in several regional programmes to enhance security, including the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and Committee on Fisheries (COFI).

“ATIGA is the main platform to facilitate ease of trade in the Asean region. NACA is an inter-government organisation which supports aquaculture development in rural areas and; COFI is an organisation which monitors aquaculture activities including fish trade and fisheries management,” the ministry says.

Second on the list is the expansion of livestock farming through feedlots to increase meat production to 50% for local and export demands.

And lastly, the third objective will be efforts to reduce import dependency on grain corn by 30% over the next decade by bolstering crop yield domestically.

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