Boosting federal-state coordination to tackle food security

KUALA LUMPUR: Food security committees at the state and district levels will be set up to ensure the federal and state governments can implement the National Food Security Policy Action Plan 2021-2025 in a synergistic manner, says Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The Prime Minister said this was decided at a meeting he chaired yesterday with Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers, which was also attended by relevant ministers.

The meeting, he said, emphasised the need to strengthen cooperation between the federal and state governments to enhance the country’s food supply security, which is facing various challenges due to current global developments.

State governments have agreed to implement seven initiatives for this purpose, he said in a statement as reported by Bernama.

These include increasing the area for agriculture, especially state-owned land, by gazetting agricultural land as reserves under Section 62 of the National Land Code and then leasing them out under Section 63 of the Code for periods of at least 10 to 21 years.

“Apart from this, to strengthen the award of state land to state government subsidiaries related to agriculture which would then lease out the land to agriculture entrepreneurs for a period of 30 years.

“State authorities can also, subject to state land procedures, approve a Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) of at least three years which can be renewed,” he added.

Other initiatives encompassed maintaining zoning for padi fields, gazetting of permanent food production parks and developing abandoned and yet-to-be-developed such parks, and maintaining gazetting of existing Aquaculture Industry Zones (ZIAs) and gazetting ZIAs that are yet to be gazetted, he said.

Apart from this, he said state governments agreed to coordinate with local authorities to facilitate the conditions and approval process for planning consent of development of closed chicken coop systems and other agrofood activities.

“The state governments have also agreed to set up a district agriculture land development committee to facilitate the development of undeveloped privately owned agriculture land and set lower abstraction charge rates for freshwater and saltwater resources in the agrofood sector,” he added.

Ismail Sabri said among the challenges faced in national food supply security was an increase in the price of agricultural inputs like grain corn and fertilisers, hikes in logistic costs, and extreme weather which caused frequent flooding and drought that disrupted the food production cycle.

He said the Federal Government also agreed to consider a proposal to reduce or waive taxes on the agrofood industry.

“The Finance Ministry will give further details,” he added.

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