The topic of food security has been the top of all ministries regardless their primary function, the problem that surfaced during the pandemic should not occur ever again in this country. Shortage of basic necessity like food is unfathomable for any nation what more of ours of 32 million. In this aspect a crisis was narrowly averted during the lockdown, as the collective efforts of all parties ensured the supply chain continued and store shelves were stocked.
But the future of food security needs to be addressed now and not when another situation occurs, countries like Japan, USA and Europe have already put in place concrete programs ensuring the agriculture industry is robust and crisis proof. Many locals there are taking on the roles in farming or aquaculture and thriving, some have even left high paying corporate jobs to venture into this fulfilling sector. Local Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister(MEDAC) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaid is mooting similar initiatives. He has recently tasked his Ministry to cooperate with other ministries to encourage the participation of youths in the agriculture industry in hope to strengthen the country’s food security.
For those who are keen can even opt for funding and guidance from the well established agencies within these ministries. The Minister cited how the Sarawak government’s has approached to encourage youth participation in agriculture entrepreneurship which is by channeling funds, training and the opening of a trade office in Singapore to expand the market for their products and how that can be emulated.
“Just follow what Sarawak is doing (and) I am certain that the agriculture (industry) will have a great future because Sarawak plays its part well in food supply chain management,” he said.
Malaysian job seekers should wean away from traditional professions in the service sector, according to Junaidi when visiting the Angkasa Cooperative in Sarawak, he noted that many cooperatives in the country were still focused on the service sector, especially in the provision of credit facilities, and only a small number were involved in production. The objective is to change this situation, in the years to come is to see a decrease in the number of people (cooperatives) in the service sector and an increase in the production sector, including construction, manufacturing and agriculture.
Our agriculture industry contributed to RM101 billion in 2020 contributing 7.1% to the GDP, Malaysia still uses mostly traditional methods in the sector and is often viewed as a green field for technology to transform it. Gifted with fertile soil and temperate climate harvesting can be conducted the whole year and yields could multiply given the enterprises that get involved.
Malaysians must stop being too dependent on imported agriculture products and it’s time that they got involved in the food production industry ecosystem.
“We want more youths and unemployed graduates to become agripreneurs. They need to change their mindset… don’t just focus on becoming wage earners. They should open their eyes to the enormous business potential in the food production sector,”- Junaidi.