Page 18 - MFBD 1920_02Mar2020
P. 18

Editorial
Towards Food securiTy and iMproving The agriculTure secTor
A promise by the new government to guarantee the basic food needs of the nation and safeguard the welfare of farmers is indeed timely. This is consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that focuses explicitly on food by seeking to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. To achieve this, the government needs to address the issues and challenges presented by agriculture and food security from the supply and demand side of the equation.
On the supply side, Malaysia’s agricultural sector is divided into two sub-sectors: commodity and food. In general, commodity crops (such as palm oil) have grown rapidly and contributed signi cantly to national development. For instance – in 2016, the agriculture sector contributed 8.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with oil palm alone contributing 43.1% of the GDP of the agriculture sector, followed by other agriculture (19.5%), livestock (11.6%),  shing (11.5%), forestry and logging (7.2%) and rubber (7.1%). Commodity crops such as oil palm are dominated by plantation sector with good management practices.
On the other hand, the food sub-sector consisting of food crops, livestock and  sheries is yet to match the commodity crop performance and faces many issues that prevent it from developing rapidly. At present, the country is still facing production shortfall: rice (72%), vegetables (72%), beef (23%), goat meat (8%), and milk (5%). This has led Malaysia to record a trade de cit for some years now. For example, in 1990, the food trade de cit was RM1.1 billion. In 2006, it increased to RM8.5 billion due to higher import growth, and in 2016, the trade de cit was RM16.5 billion. Some of the causes for the food sector’s underperformance are underinvestment in agricultural research, small scale farms with low level of technology, agro-entrepreneurship, climate change and depleting resources.
On the demand side, Malaysia has seen a greater variety and volume of higher value and higher protein food (such
as meat,  sh and milk). The demand for staple food among the lower quintile of the population, however, has increased as the income elasticity of this group is high. Consumers also demand new food products, new packaging, more convenience, new delivery systems as well as safer and more nutritious foods.
Other than supply and demand parameters, global mega trends are also affecting the domestic landscape of agriculture and food security. These include accelerating urbanisation, climate change and resource constraints, demographic shifts and income growth, technology breakthrough, knowledge
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