Eye-watering: Malaysians consume over RM1bil worth of onions, garlic a year, says Mat Sabu


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians consume over RM1bil worth of onions and garlic a year, says Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu.

"In 2022, Malaysia imported a total of 687 metric tons of onion worth RM1.58bil.

"Of this, 38 metrics tons were shallot worth RM81.5mil to meet domestic demand," the Agriculture and Food Security Minister said when answering a question raised by Datuk Idris Ahmad (PN-Bagan Serai) in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Feb 28).

He said that this meant that each person consumed about 1.2kg of onion and garlic a year.

Mohamad said that the high cost of import was because Malaysia relied 100% on imported onions and garlic from India, the Netherlands, China, Thailand and Pakistan.

To address this issue, he said that the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute had begun research and development in 2020 to produce suitable seedlings, particularly to grow shallots locally.

He said shallots were selected for research and development as large onions and garlic were not suitable for cultivation here.

At present, he said that the growing of shallots is being done in two phases to produce at least 30% of locally grown onions by 2030.

He said the first phase, between 2024 and 2025, will involve 70,000 metric tons of shallot seedlings excluding 230kg from Mardi.

He said some 100 hectares will be used to grow shallots under the first phase of the project to produce some 1,000 metric tons.

"At present, the growing of shallots has started involving 1.2 hectares under the Negri Sembilan and Selangor farmers associations and one hectare in the Bilkam Plantation in Perak.

"The first harvest is expected to be in April this year," he added.

Mohamad said that the second phase of the project, between 2026 and 2030, will involve the growing of shallots on 1,347 hectares of land.

He added that an estimated 14,470 metric tons of shallots or about 30% to meet domestic needs by 2030.

"The cost for the locally grown shallots may be more expensive than imported ones.

"But this has to be done as part of food security to ensure that we have an alternative source for shallots if there are sanctions or a situation affecting the country where they are supplied from," he added.

He said lowering the cost of imported onions to below RM1bil a year would help the nation save on currency exchange.

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Mat Sabu , Onion , Garlic , Shallots , Import

   

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