By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By ARIF KARTONO
THE government plans to double the size of land used for cattle farming to a total of 1.5 million ha to reduce the country’s dependency on ruminant imports.
Veterinary Services Department DG Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin Hassan Nizam (picture) said an additional of 740,646ha of land currently used for oil palm plantation is expected to be integrated with the existing 734,354ha cattle farm within five years.
“We are depending too much on ruminant imports. The sustainability of the ruminant sector has been at an alarming rate as the production continues to decline although the consumption has stagnated.
“The government wants to integrate oil palm areas to be used for cattle farming within the next five years,” he told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.
He added that the additional farming areas will produce 28,463 tonnes of beef products in a year.
Currently, Malaysia has 5.9 million ha of oil palm plantation with almost 72% of the total land area owned by established palm oil corporations.
At present, Malaysia’s self sufficient level for ruminants, which include beef and mutton, is at 23% while the local production stood 45,353 million tonnes. Quaza Nizamuddin said the plan, which will be included in the National Agro-Food Policy 2.0, will require an extension of tax incentives to entice businesses to get involved in the ruminant production.
“While we are setting the path to improve Malaysia’s cattle farming activities, we would need businesses to come forward and be involved in the industry.
“We plan to introduce an enhanced tax incentive. At present, we have a 10-year exemption on companies who are involved in agriculture. Perhaps, we could extend it to 15 years for cattle farming,” he said.
He added that under the strategic plan, the number of breeders or female cattle is expected to increase to a ratio of 20 to two against male cattle to ensure the sustainability of domestic ruminant supply.
“About 227,708 of additional breeders are needed to achieve the target. The government will introduce a programme with a cost structure which allows the government to bear 70% of the cost,” he said.
In 2018, Malaysia imported about RM15.72 billion worth of animal products and RM274.77 million of live animals. For exports, the revenue for livestock-based products stood at RM6 billion in the same year, while live animals recorded RM821.23 million.
Meanwhile, Quaza Nizamuddin said there are no cases of H5N1 bird flu detected among the chicken imports from China.
He added that the Department of Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis) has established a procedure to identify if the livestock imports are contaminated with the flu.
“Maqis has set up its station at ports where the livestock products are checked to find whether each of the individual batches is tested positive with H5N1.
“The test will take three days to show their results. Before they are confirmed negative with the flu, the products are being held at the ports,” he said.
He added that Malaysia only imports chicken cuts from a processing plant in Liaocheng, Shangdong, located about 1,313km from the H5N1 outbreak in Shaoyang in Hunan, China.