Agricultural sector must adopt modernisation, says Mah


Malaysia should adopt modern technology to boost the local agricultural sector, said Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

The minister said in 2016, the agriculture sector contributed RM89.3 billion or 8.1% to the gross domestic product (GDP), while the agro-food sector contributed RM36.5 billion or 3.3% to GDP.

“Modernisation in agro-food brings us towards increased production, higher incomes for farmers, improved nutrition and better food security in the agro-food subsector,” Mah said at the recent Malaysian International Agriculture Technology Exhibition (Agri 2017).

“A modernisation would involve innovation and mechanisation,” he said, adding that modernisation in the sector will intensify and improve efficiency of agriculture and fulfil financial needs and the nation’s food security.

In 2016, export value was at RM134.7 billion with 1% or RM122 billion — constituting major commodities and commodity-based products.

To date, 6.1 million hectares of land area are occupied by commodities such as palm oil, rubber, cocoa and kenaf.

“The agriculture sector in particular the food-based products has great potential taking into account the expected growth in the world population from 7.4 billion in 2017 to 8.5 billion in 2030. This will correspondingly increase the demand for food products in the coming years,” Mah said.

Mah believes that local producers of food products should increase their investment and adapt to modernisation to expand their production to tap into a broader market.

Agri 2017 involves the exhibition of products and technologies which would improve the cross-border cooperation among visitors and industry players.

This year, the product and technology showcase includes those from Malaysia, China, Japan, Australia, Spain, Taiwan, India, Belgium, the US, France, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.

He further said for Malaysia to revitalise its agricultural sector, a comprehensive overhaul and adoption of newer technologies are required.

The first step is to raise awareness among farmers of the benefits of new farming technology that would allow the government to improve the income of the below-40 group.

“Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the government has introduced macro strategies across the agro-food subsector to develop the industry. These strategies focus on improving the incomes of the bottom 40% of the income group, which includes farmers and livestock rearers,” he said.

Moving forward, the minister believes that there is a need to strengthen human capital to ensure the agriculture industry will have enough local talents to sustain its future development.