Impossible to achieve 100% self-sufficiency in food, says Mat Sabu

KUALA LUMPUR: It is impossible to achieve a 100% self-sufficiency ratio (SSR) in Malaysia as there are certain food items that cannot be produced domestically due to several factors, said Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu.

These factors include economic viability of the crop, climate differences and land resource constraints, he said.

“How can we grow wheat, soybeans and corn at a low and suitable price? So far, attempts have been made in Perlis and it was found that when the yield was obtained it was more expensive than importing,” said Mohamad.

He said this during the question-and-answer session in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 9).

Mohamad then added that a country’s food security is measured through five indicators by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations; availability, access, stability, utilisation and capacity.

“For example, Singapore has the highest level of food security because it can obtain all kinds of food through investments and such. Therefore we shouldn’t confuse SSR with food security.

“Most importantly, there is enough food and we focus on efforts to produce food domestically,” he added.

Mohamad was responding to Datuk Dr Zulkafperi Hanapi (PN-Tanjong Karang) who asked about the ministry’s efforts in changing the national agriculture and livestock policies to ensure a 100% SSR for basic commodities.

Mohamad also said supplies for chicken and eggs are stabilising, but noted that there must be long-term efforts to ensure stable rice supplies.

“Under the previous governments, import prices of rice were relatively low and therefore the focus was not on ensuring sufficient rice.

“So we need to make efforts to ensure sufficient rice, which is currently being done. Fortunately, there’s excellent cooperation with state governments, especially with Pahang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

Nevertheless, existing rice production has to be increased, he added.

“There have been many studies conducted on increasing yields. We cannot have yields of only four to five metric tons per hectare for another 20 years.

“Now, we need to work towards achieving at least seven metric tons per hectare, even with incentives,” he said.

The government, said Mohamad, is working hard towards achieving an 80% SSR by 2030.

“State governments and the Federal Government are cooperating. Others such as the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda), FGV Holdings and private entities need to be involved too,” he added.

In July, Mohamad said the government had set a 10-year target to achieve a 100% SSR for basic food commodities such as rice, fish, chicken and vegetables.

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Food , self-sufficiency , ssr , malaysia , mohamad sabu


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