ISKANDAR PUTERI: Malaysia needs to grow its own maize for use as animal feed, which can save billions of ringgit that are spent on importing it.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the country imported about three million tonnes of maize from Argentina annually, valued at RM3.2bil.
He said although the country started maize plantations in Johor, Kedah and Terengganu last year, the 1,000ha of maize farms were insufficient to meet local demand.
"We should look at how Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines are able to produce their own maize to produce animal feed for their livestock industry, without imports," said Ahmad Shabery.
He said this after closing the 39th annual general meeting of the Johor Farmers Association at a hotel here on Thursday.
Ahmad Shabery said that in order to become self-sufficient, Malaysia would need between 300,000 and 400,000 hectares of maize plantations.
He said the ministry would come up with development policies for such large-scale maize farming, including choosing the seedlings of the highest quality.
"The quality of maize will determine the pricing of our poultry, as poor quality maize will produce poor quality poultry," said Ahmad Shabery.
On the country's annual beef imports of about RM2bil, he said that it was cheaper to import the frozen meat, which mostly comes from India.
"Not many people know it is actually costs more to rear our own cattle vast areas are needed to breed them," he added.