Cognizant of the importance of food security for the growth and development of an economy and citing its positive impacts, including economic growth and job creation, the Non- Aligned Movement has always reiterated its commitment towards ensuring access to quality and nutritious food that is fundamental to human existence. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations says that food security exists when every citizen has physical, economic and social access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, at all times that meet their dietary requirements. Agriculture plays a significant role in strengthening the national food security while cutting down the dependence on imports.
With the ever-increasing population, ensuring quality food and everyone’s access to it becomes quite a struggle for an economy. With the times changing and population rising at an unmatched rate, food security becomes the major and immediate focus of the economies. When it comes to Malaysia, the country is doing quite well in the plantation as implied by the palm oil exports that is about RM70 billion a year and is preparing a lot to address the problems in the food production sector.
The National Agro-Food Policy 2.0 (NAP 2.0) is one such initiative by the government of Malaysia that will be launched in the year 2021 for the period 2021-2030. Fortunate enough to be close to the equatorial climate, Malaysia is rarely affected by hurricanes or droughts, making the region more suitable for agriculture purpose. The initiative NAP 2.0 comes as part of the 12th Malaysia Plan’s strategic framework that aims to push forward the modernisation process in the sector while maintaining a balance between the demand and supply of national food supply. The project is a continuation of the objectives of the current agro-food policy and aims to ensure food security and increase in the contributions to the income of the target groups and national economy.
The current NAP that has been enforced since 2011 and will last till 2020 has been a step forward towards success in terms of increased production of food commodities. During the launch of the National Farmers, Breeders and Fishermen’s Day in November 2019, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail reiterated country’s commitment to incorporate the new approach in line with the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 with the theme ‘Leaving No One Behind’ to back the aspirations of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030. With the initiative based on the modern technology and sustainable development, the Malaysian government seeks to take into account the sustainability of natural resources and the environment and ensure affordable access to sufficient and nutritious food resources. It also aims to improve research and development activities with a view to produce new varieties that can resist the climate change and produce a high yield.
Apart from implementing various initiatives, the NAP 2.0 aims to set a new direction and pathway for another 10 years, including development of agriculture input in all agro-food sub-sectors that will make the country a major exporter of tropical food and will open the doors for opportunities to further expand the services in line with the modern technology. With NAP 2.0, Malaysia eyes upon locally-produced fruits as a new source of income for the country while shrinking its dependence on foreign food producers and cutting down its imports from the international sphere.
With the strong commitment and right guidance, the sector holds a big potential to mark its contribution to the national economy. Keeping in line with the concept of sustainability as marked by the Non-Aligned Movement, the initiative by Malaysia, NAP 2.0 underscores its efforts in achieving great even with the available resources that need to be kept for the future generations as well. An active participation and a slight shift from the plantation sector to food sector is what is needed from the citizens of the country to ensure sustainable growth of the citizens as well as the economy. The agro-food sector requires an equal participation from the youth of the country to take over and give new life to the sector and ensure a boost to the competitiveness of the agro-food sector.