Food security: Are we doing enough?


Global food prices are projected to rise in future as a result of changing weather patterns, water scarcity, higher oil prices and increased demand from emerging markets like China and India.

Agricultural and farming research centre in no...
Agricultural research station, Thailand

As if that’s not enough, financial speculators are turning their attention to agricultural commodities and gambling on food products. See the Spiegel article here and the Green World Investor blog here.

We were warned in 2008 of a global food crisis. But have we learned any lessons? Are we doing enough to promote food security and sustainability in Malaysia (other than corporate agriculture)?

While we are obsessed with FDI, are we doing enough to chart out a sustainable – and the key word is sustainable or organic – agriculture blueprint that would meet the needs of our people in the future?

Malaysia now imports 30 per cent of its rice needs annually, according to Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Deputy Minister Mohd Johari Baharum, as reported in The Star. He hopes that with increased rice production in the Kada and Mada areas, we won’t need to import anymore rice by 2015.

But senior lecturer Christopher Teh points out, Malaysia’s rice yield per capita has been falling. He then goes on to explain why the 2015 target is unrealistic, as we need both higher yields and new areas opened up for rice cultivation. Read the excellent discussion on his blog here.

Meanwhile, food educator and blogger Jared Goodman ponders over the question of sustainability: “Are we trying to sustain the global economy? Or are we moving toward a localised food economy that can be sustained?”

Remember, we simply cannot rely on food imports as once a global food crisis strikes, exporting nations will very likely focus on feeding their own populations.

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Salvador Quan
22 Nov 2010 4.35am

The global food crisis cannot be resolved if the corporate bigwigs dictate the direction of the food production. Their goal is not the same, their aim is profit.

29 Aug 2010 2.25pm

The future of conflicts could be over water, fresh water. Food though essential for our nourishment survival cannot surpass water as almost everything requires water from cultivation to manufacturing. Even energy production requires water. The future of automobile running on water is a reality, though petroleum producing countries try to sideline its eco-friendliness for vulgar profits. The current rate of rainforest ravage worldwide is alarming beyond belief. Malaysia should take care of its natural resources as we are among the few countries blessed with million years old rainforest. Rainforest is a natural source of water through its wonderful ecosystem of… Read more »

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
29 Aug 2010 7.45pm
Reply to  tunglang

I “tak boleh tahan” with your idiotic statement like this one:
No water machine can replicate the rainforest

There is machine generating water from the air. Yes, pure water from air. There was an ad in The Star many years ago promoting this machine.

That is why person like you that don’t read the mainstream newspaper like The Star have missed a lot of useful information.

Who says MInsider, MT, FMT and other online news portals can replace the mainstream newspaper ???

30 Aug 2010 8.56am
Reply to  Gerakan K

Dunggu like you should get a good education in blog writing and commenting.

Learn from Anil the art of intelligent blog writing. Or maybe mix around with intelligent, God fearing, Malaysia-caring man in the streets. You will learn a lot about human empathy, emotional intelligence, anger management, may be the classic art of war (since you like to war with others) before you come back to this blog and discourse better and more intelligently.

29 Aug 2010 12.51am

I think we (the govt) should learn to better manage our agriculture industry – less politics and racist policies. Then we can be self-sustaining. Meritocracy in production as in everywhere else is needed.

As for Gerakan K – what if when Thailand does not produce enough rice for their own 60 mil population?

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
29 Aug 2010 5.40am
Reply to  Traveller

I think we should worry if there is money remain in our pocket.

28 Aug 2010 7.26pm

Some of our problems related to land use conversion:

rubber estates, padi fields, vegetable farms, poultry farms and other agro farms were quickly turned to oil palm plantations for the fast profits it can generate.

Is there a proper study on the long term agro-economics, national food self-sufficiency and export earnings from palm oil production (vis-a-vis opportunity cost of food self sufficiency) in the next 30 years?

Even our scarce natural rainforest is ravaged for financial greed in the name of progress without foresight and care. Sarawak is a glaring example.

alfred ho
28 Aug 2010 7.14pm

hi anil, i wonder if you still remember me. i’m alfred ho the blind singer and i wish to inform you that i have posted more than 60 songs over you tube. if you enjoy listening to the oldies, then please visit my channel. these are unplugged sessions where i accompany myself on the guitar. for your information, i am still very interested in politics but i am disenchanted with the pakatan raayat as they have not kept to their promises to the people and with all the party hopping going on. the opposition parties do not seem to agree… Read more »

Andrew I
28 Aug 2010 5.11pm

Well, that is a reality. As Tun M says, FDIs are low because the investor’s own countries now need the funds.

So, presumably when food exporting countries don’t have enough to feed their own people, they won’t be selling to other countries.

28 Aug 2010 11.51am

No worries, Bolehland can rely on ubi kayu and sungei cat fish for protein!
Don’t see this food problem in the last frontier land for a good many years to come…

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
28 Aug 2010 11.48am

Relax, we will buy easily and cheaply from Thailand.