KOTA SAMARAHAN: Malaysia needs to increase its food production as the country is importing more than it produces, says the Prime Minister.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia was facing a deficit of RM17bil a year in food production.
“In other words, we import more food than we export by RM17bil. Imagine what will happen if farmers stop planting padi or fishermen stop going out to sea.
“The contribution of farmers and fishermen to our food security is therefore very significant. It would not be wrong to see them as the heroes of the nation,” he said when launching Farmers, Fishermen and Livestock Breeders’ Day yesterday.
Najib noted that food security was a major challenge faced not only by Malaysia but the world.
He said a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) showed that global population was expected to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050 from the current 7.2 billion.
“If the level of food production is not increased by 60% of its current production, the world will face a famine. Even now, 800 million people in the world go to bed hungry.
“I consider food security a major challenge that needs to be addressed, apart from terrorism, extremism and climate change.”
Najib called on farmers to utilise technology in increasing their production and transforming the sector to a dynamic, innovative and competitive industry.
“We have to change and learn from how a small country like the Netherlands, for example, can export agriculture products to the world.”
He said the Government had allocated RM5.3bil in Budget 2016 for the agriculture sector.
Among others, it will set up 50 more farmers’ markets and 100 agro bazaars next year.
Other incentives include RM70mil to provide subsidy on fertilisers and pesticides for hill padi farmers in Sarawak.
Najib said Sarawak should expand its specialty products such as Bario rice and the prized empurau fish.
He also said he had allocated funds for research on breeding empurau, which could fetch about RM500 per kg.
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