PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has called for more sustainable agriculture practices to face the threat to the world's food production due to extreme climate change.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said occurrences of drought, flooding and haze in recent times have made food and agriculture more challenging and require “urgent response measures”.
“Agriculture will have to cope with increased climate variability and more extreme weather, while at the same time meet the increasing demand for food, feed, fibre and fuel," said Dr Ahmad Zahid in his keynote address at the opening of the Food and Agriculture Organisation's 33rd Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (FAO APRC) here on Thursday.
He said climate change and extreme weather could irreversibly damage the natural resources on which agriculture depends.
“Agriculture is thus at a crossroad. It has to find ways to feed the world while being environmentally, socially and economically sustainable,” he said.
Besides sustainable agriculture, Dr Ahmad Zahid called for the stimulation of private-sector investment in agriculture and to reduce poverty by utilising biodiversity in order to ensure food security and food sovereignty in the region.
“These approaches can further spur the region to better sustainable development, and I hope there would be active discussions on these subjects to the benefit of member countries,” he said.
As Home Minister, Dr Ahmad Zahid said he is committed to safeguarding national security and stability, as it is a “prerequisite to sustain food security”.
“It does not need someone with a brain of a scientist to tell us that production of food will not be feasible if a country is war-stricken.
“We have seen too many cases where when a country collapses, food is unavailable simply because national security is compromised,” he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also called on UN member states to support FAO's initiative to reduce food wastage.
“I wish to highlight the fact that one-third of all food produced worldwide is wasted yearly,” he said.
On Malaysia’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the country was one of 72 that had achieved the Millennium Development Goals target on fighting hunger.
“We did not stop there. The Government continues to address poverty through the National Economic Policy through our five-year economic development plans.
“This has resulted in the reduction of aggregate poverty from 8.9% to 1.7% between 1995 and 2012 through effective land reform and poverty eradication programmes such as Felda, Felcra and 1Azam.
"These programmes have successfully assisted many low-income earners to break free from poverty,” he said.Also present at the ceremony were Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek and FAO director-general Dr Jose Graziano da Silva.