I REFER to the letter “Youths needed in food production” (The Star, May 10). Malaysia has not paid enough emphasis on the importance of national food security.
We should adopt modern technology and increase farm size to reduce cost and increase profitability. This would remove the image of 3D and poverty among farmers and attract investment and youths into agricultural food production.
The government already has many policies in place to encourage agricultural food production. But why haven’t they worked?
To farm livestock or plant food crops, we need land. Malaysia has large areas of land for commercial agriculture activities, but the emphasis is only on oil palm and rubber. There is hardly any policy to allocate land for the purpose of food production. In fact, the government is very stingy in giving out land to farmers.
It’s very difficult for youths to apply for state land to start farming. Many of the farmers are on illegally occupied land. Even the vegetable farmers in Cameron Highlands are still on temporary occupation licence (TOL).
Can’t the government allocate land to farmers in the same way as industrial zones are carved out? Farmers need large areas of land to earn a good profit. They also need to own the land (or at least hold a lease) for 30 to 50 years to feel secure in investing in machinery and modern farming methods.
Agricultural food production can be a lucrative venture. The government should establish agricultural zones in each state and encourage youths to become involved in ventures like livestock, vegetable and fish farming. The government should also provide financial and technical assistance for the aspirants, and help farmers in branding and marketing their produce.