Daim: We need to get serious about Food Security

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 9): Tun Daim Zainuddin, Malaysia’s former finance minister and chairman of the Council of Eminent Persons, is known on the local and international front as an expert on all financial matters.

Of late however, Daim has been vocal about cost of living issues in Malaysia, primarily at the root of it, rising food prices and agricultural issues.

His interest in the matter is not unfounded.

Malaysia, a country where agriculture contributed 8.2% of its gross domestic product in 2017, came in at 40th postion amongst 113 countries tracked by the Global Food Security Index.

But Singapore, our neighbour across the causeway, which barely has any agricultural activities to boast of, snagged the top spot.

In an e-mail interview with The Edge, Daim points to the current pattern of food imports, which he says is not sustainable, and urges Malaysia to quickly turn the tide before it is too late.

In our accompanying stories, we also look at the prospects for the agrifood sector. In Budget 2020, the government announced that RM150 million would be allocated to farmers to facilitate crop integration, and to help supplement their income through the planting of produce such as chillies, pineapples, coconuts, watermelons and bamboo.

 Professor Sayed Azam-Ali, the CEO of the world’s first research centre on underutilised plants, Crops for The Future Research Centre, also gives us his insight on alternative crops that are high in nutrition.

We also look at a worrying trend in Malaysia—stunting and obesity. As reported previously,  in 2018, 20.7% of children under 5 in Malaysia were stunted - higher than Ghana’s 18.8%. Here, we look at what needs to be done to address stunting, obesity and micronutrient deficiency in the country.

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