Wednesday, November 30

S’wak business leader: Prepare for potential food shortage

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Loh (centre) presents a memento to Chiu as (from left) Kuek and Liu look on. – Photo by Lim How Pim

KUCHING (Aug 14): Sarawak needs to prepare for potential food shortage in the face of global situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and Russia-Ukraine war, asserted a local Chinese business leader.

Kuching Chinese General Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCGCCI) vice president Kuek Eng Mong said even though Malaysia and Sarawak had not faced food shortage, several factors may influence the global food supply chain.

“Although there is no food shortage in our country at the moment, with the inflation and food waste taking place, our people may face crisis sooner rather than later.

“This is why we need to prepare ourselves for any of such challenges so that we won’t be caught off guard,” he said when opening a sharing session ‘Fishing & Breeding Techniques’ held at the KCGC Innovation Hub, Wisma Chinese Chambers here yesterday.

The session was conducted by two Taiwanese experts from the National Kaoshiung University of Science and Technology, Prof Chiu Kuo-Hsun from the Department of Graduate Institute of Aquaculture and Associate Prof Liu Jen-Ming from the Department of Fisheries Production and Management.

Quoting figures from the United Nation’s (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) Report, Kuek observed that global situations such as the Russian-Ukraine war have led to rising costs in almost everything, which may land 81 countries with a combined population of 47 million in famine.

Based on the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation Report, he said, the global aquaculture industry has seen a rapid growth with fisheries and aquaculture productions.

According to him, this shows that aquatic food will gradually emerge as important food commodities in the world.

The 2022 edition of the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture had pointed out that the global production of aquatic animals was estimated at 178 million tonnes in 2020 while 36 million tonnes of algae were produced, he said.

He opined that the fisheries and aquaculture sector would transform and prosper to help ensure food sustainability across the globe.

“It is timely to bring in two experts from Taiwan to share their knowledge and expertise with local industry players,” he said.

Earlier, KCGCCI Agriculture Committee chairman Loh Siaw Kuei said natural marine produce was on a decrease due to changes in the environment.

Because of this, he said, there is a dire need to develop artificial breeding skills to address the global food demand.

“Despite mass consumption needs in the world, what industry players are facing is the huge costs involved in preserving breeding environment and continuous development of techniques.

“Having a conducive environment for breeding and adequate experience and technique is key towards ensuring the success of an aquaculture business,” he explained.

Loh observed that there is an increasing demand for aquatic produce at the global market.

“The underlying issue here is not the marketing of our aquatic produce but whether we are able to produce enough to meet the supply.

“Given our geographical location, sitting on the island of Borneo with a long stretch of coastline, Sarawak is ideal for the development of the aquaculture sector,” he said.

He believed that local industry players just need to identify the best breed and come up with a comprehensive breeding system as well as develop transportation for refrigerated goods to ensure sustainability.