PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will open up more agricultural commodity markets in anticipation of greater challenges and stricter rules at the global level, says Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.
The Plantation and Commodities Minister said one of the challenges came from the European Union Deforestation Regulation, which prohibits deforestation for agricultural commodities like oil palm, rubber, cocoa and coffee.
He said the government would ensure that the plantation and commodity sectors would not be affected by the tightened rules, smallholders in particular.
"This is because, for them, compliance with the new and stricter rules means more costs compared with bigger, more financially capable agriculture companies.
"We must take care of the smallholders, which number to no less than 500,000 nationwide," he said.
With the projected 3% global economic growth in 2024, he said the environment would become more challenging, further intensified by increased active and aggressive competition.
"We can see that in 2023, despite achieving success, our production has been lower compared to the previous year due to the uncertain global economic situation.
“Economic growth has been somewhat constrained this year because of geopolitical conflicts and high inflation in some countries.
"These circumstances pose challenges for us, in addition to the new regulations that we need to comply with, introduced by countries that import our products," he said at the opening of the National Agricultural Commodity Day 2023 on Tuesday (Dec 5).
Fadillah, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said the focus now should be on how Malaysia could expand its product markets.
He said agricommodity products made great contributions to the national income.
As of September this year, he said the sector contributed RM60bil, or about 5% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, while export values reached nearly RM118bil (11.5%) of the country's total export earnings.
At the event, themed Driving National Agricultural Commodity Sustainability, Fadillah presented the National Agricommodity Awards to winners from six sectors - oil palm, rubber, timber, cocoa, pepper and kenaf.