KUCHING: Malaysia has the potential to be one of the major food producers in the world with its vast acreage of arable lands combined with its intelligence and capability to implement modern agricultural technologies.
Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said besides political stability, a country’s strength also depended on its own food production and its ability to penetrate into the world markets.
“Our country, especially the state of Sarawak with around three million in population, has vast land that is suitable for agriculture and livestock activities that can be our strength as a food producer for the country and food exporter to the world’s markets.
“Sarawak can plant a bountiful variety that we can export, such as the famous Bario rice which is rich in nutrition with a unique taste.
We have to develop something that can be used as our brand, so that it is enough not only for own our consumption, but also enough to penetrate into the world’s market,” he said at the ‘2015 National Farmers, Livestock Breeders and Fishermen’s Convention’ dinner on Friday night.
He said the country is currently importing more food than it is exporting, which meant it was depending on the mercy of foreign countries.
He said the country was also constantly seeking greater market access, which was why the government was actively pursuing the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) so that Malaysia could continuously seek new and greater market access.
And recent TPPA negotiations had agreed to take into consideration Malaysia concern and sensitivities including Bumiputera issues, he added.
“When the world opens its market to us, we must be able to penetrate into the market,” he said.
On the convention, he said Sarawak as the host, underlines recognition of the farmers, livestock breeders and fishermen for their contribution to the country.
He said both Sarawak and Sabah were the core strength of the country and big supporters of the Barisan Nasional government.
And because many agricultural areas had been developed into factory areas, with paddy land turned into oil palm plantations in West Malaysia, therefore the nation was depending on Sarawak’s vast land to turn into agriculture areas to ensure the nation’s food sovereignty, he pointed out.
During the dinner, he also launched the ‘Fish Supply-Demand LKIM’ book, which contains information on the supply and demand of Malaysia’s fishing industry and future expectations of the country’s fishing industry.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministers Anthony Nogeh Gumbek and Datuk Seri Tajuddin
Abdul Rahman, and National Farmers Organisation chairman Datuk Seri Saipolbahari Suib were among those present.