By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, Oct 12: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas deemed as timely, the recent re-emphasis on agricultural development that focussed principally on food production in the country to offset imports.
“Today, the ability to produce enough food and fibre for the world is primarily dependent upon modern agro-technology and entrepreneurship,” he said when officiating at the International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Science (ISSAAS) 2018 Congress here.
Themed “Industry 4.0: Agriculture Technologies Advancement”, the Congress is being held from Oct 12-14.
Uggah said the National Agricultural Policy (NAP1, NAP2 and NAP3) that stretched from 1984 to 2010 were the guiding principles for Malaysia to stay competitive in the agriculture and agro-based industry while providing food security at affordable prices for its people.
The principal aims of the NAPs were multi-faceted, namely the provision of (i) sustainable good forestry and agriculture practices, (ii) human resource development, including in new and emerging areas of agricultural sciences, and (iii) professional farm managers for large-scale farming enterprises.
These NAPs were private-sector driven, while the public-sector played the role of facilitator to enhance the delivery of the required support services.
“The success of the NAP1, NAP2 and NAP3 and the need to transform the agricultural sector in view of the dramatic global increase of food prices in 2018 in Malaysia and worldwide have led to the launch of the National Agro-Food Policy (NAFP),” he said.
Uggah, who is the Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, said this new policy focussed on increasing the efficiency of the agro-food industry along the value-food chain so as to make the industry more productive, competitive and knowledge intensive.
This new approach comprises eight primary ideas: (1) food security,(2) development of high-value agriculture, (3) sustainable agricultural development, (4) dynamic agricultural cluster with maximisation of income generation, (5) private sector driven investment of modern agriculture, (6) knowledge and information-based human capital, (7) modernisation of agriculture driven by R&D, technology and innovation, and (8) prime agricultural support services.
“Agriculture has always historically been the main backstay of our rural farmers. Against continuing environmental degradation, the challenge is to ensure people’s right to food security by guaranteeing that present and future generations have equal access to the capital, human and natural resources,“ he said.
Uggah also stressed the need for adequate allocation of resources and to channel science and technology into rural areas to encourage the farmers to swap the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers with organic farming.
“As ecologically sound farm management practices rely on low levels of inputs, indigenous knowledge, and appropriate technologies, skills on agro-ecology for sustainable yield should be imparted,” he said.
Also present were Universiti Putra Malaysia vice-chancellor Professor Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris, ISSAAS secretary-general Dr Hironobu Shiwachi and ISSAAS president Professor Dr Abdul Shukor Juraimi. — DayakDaily