Malaysia’s national food security policy: Adopting smart, cutting-edge technologies for better sustainability

Due to factors such as rising global food prices, the Covid-19 outbreak, and heightened geopolitical tensions, there are undeniably significant concerns surrounding Malaysia’s food security.

Because of the falling value of the country’s currency and the increasing interest rates in the United States, the cost of importing food has grown, which has led to an average inflation rate of 6.8 per cent for food in 2022.

This increase in food prices has had a disproportionately negative impact on those with lower incomes, in particular those living in urban areas.

As a proactive measure, the Malaysian government implemented the National Agro-Food Policy 2.0 (NAP 2.0) in response to these challenges.

This policy aims to raise the amount of food produced locally and reduce the nation’s dependence on food imports.

NAP 2.0 has the lofty objective of achieving self-sufficiency in domestic food production by 2030. This is a commendable aim. A top goal is to increase production in significant subsectors, such as paddy and rice, fruits and vegetables, and livestock and fisheries.

The policy places emphasis on modern and smart agricultural practices, enhancing market and product access, boosting human capital, ensuring the food system’s sustainability, and fostering a business environment and governance that support businesses.

Despite challenges in maintaining its place on the Global Food Security Index, Malaysia has a reliable food supply. Through its policies, strategies, and action plans, the NAP 2.0 provides a potentially fruitful path and the necessary capabilities to successfully realise its objectives. In addition, it intends to improve the conditions of Malaysia’s small-scale farmers, who constitute a substantial portion of the nation’s agro-food business.

Crop yields can be enhanced, the amount of food imported can be lowered, the quality of life for farmers can be improved, and the efficiency of the supply chain can be increased by using innovative agricultural technologies such as digitalisation, artificial intelligence, drones, the Internet of Things, and agriculture 4.0 solutions.

Government agencies like MARDI, MADA, and FAMA play a vital role when convincing farmers to adopt new technologies. Farmers may gain significantly from programmes such as the MyPadi Manager mobile app, the employment of drones, and other forms of cutting-edge technologies.

Increasing expenditure in research and development related to innovation and modern technologies benefit both the environment that agriculture inhabits, and the economic wellbeing of farmers. In Malaysia’s agricultural environment, it is necessary to encourage smart farming technologies, such as the Internet of Things, drones, robotics, and artificial intelligence. These technological advancements may significantly increase product quality and quantity while reducing the need for human labour and other costs.

Because agriculture receives minimal foreign direct investment (FDI), boosting agribusiness to attract investments into the agro-food sector is essential.

Food processors, retailers and agencies like MARDI and FAMA, must work together to cut food waste and improve environmental sustainability. For the sake of sustainability over the long term, it is essential to encourage the use of modern technologies to reduce waste and enhance the nutritional content of food.

To reach the goals set by NAP 2.0 by 2030, farmers will need to transition away from traditional agricultural practices and move towards more modern farming practices that use technology and mechanisation.

The participation of all parties in Malaysia’s food ecosystem, including agriculturalists, food processors, and governmental agencies, is necessary to achieve food sustainability goals in the country. Farmers must have access to money in the form of savings, loans, or assets, for them to be able to make investments in land, farm buildings, and modern farming equipment.

A robust and comprehensive food security policy that maximises efficiency and cooperation within the food ecosystem would play a significant role in growing domestic food production and in ensuring that food is affordable and accessible to all Malaysians.

This is because a well-administered food policy will maximise the efficiency of the food ecosystem.

The National Agro-Food Policy 2.0 (NAP 2.0), primarily through its policy thrust of ‘Embracing Modernisation and Smart Agriculture’, provides a workable road map for resolving these challenges and establishing a more sustainable and food-secure future for Malaysia.

Colonel Azman Taib is a senior officer and an experienced helicopter pilot with the Royal Malaysian Air Force. He is currently a Course Member at the National Resilience College, PUSPAHANAS, Putrajaya.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.