A Malaysia professor has scored Kuala Lumpur’s strange policy of depending on imported food like the Philippines and warned such policy would threaten the country’s food security. Prof. Dato Roshada Hashim and Noor Khalidah Abdul Hamid made the criticism in their New Straits Times opinion piece on March 14, 2020, saying for rice alone, Malaysia imports between 30% and 40% of its rice consumption from Vietnam, India and Thailand.

They stressed that the government may have crafted four Agricultural Policies, the latest of which is the National Agrofood Policy (NAP) for 2011-2020 but the farm sector is poor fourth behind manufacturing, food and ICT sectors , with rice production stagnating in the past 30 years and skidding by 6.2 % between 2016 and 2018, Prof. Hashim and Hamid argued.

"Among the questions are why half the hectarage of available paddy fields are left idle and why new strains that produce high quality grains and innovations in fertilizers and culture systems from decades of research, failed to enhance production. At the same time, almost 100 per cent of raw materials such as soybean meal, fishmeal and corn meal needed to support the feed industry for livestock and fish culture are imported. In the case of poultry and fish, between 2016 to 2018 saw a paltry increase of 1.96 percent in poultry production and a 15.61 and 1.41 percent decrease in aquaculture and wild fish landings, respectively,” they revealed.

“Our inability to increase self-sufficiency in rice production and reliance on imported raw materials and protein staples leave us vulnerable. Indeed a crisis now looms as the WHO and WTO issued warnings recently of an impending food crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the possibility that governments will impose export restrictions on food supplies which will impact food security of importing countries,” Prof. Hashim and Hamid warned.

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