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Friday, September 22, 2017

AN ENGINEER BECOME A CHILI FARMERS?

In Malaysia when an engineer become a successful chili farmers was reported in the newspaper. As an example Mr Wan Fazli Wan Padila, 30, thought he would never trade his dream job for any other job in the world. He was an engineer with a multinational company in Shah Alam, Selangor and got a big paycheque. But, three years ago, he ventured into chili farming in his back yard in Jengka 23, Maran, Jerantut, and has never looked back. In addition to his chilli farm at the Temin Agriculture Centre in Jerantut, Wan Fazli also operates a chili farm with about 500 trees in Sanggang, Temerloh, Pahang. He also invested in a 3ha sugarcane plantation in Lanchang. The third of six siblings, Wan Fazli obtained his diploma in mechatronics from De Montfort University, Malaysia Campus in 2001. He then worked for eight years in Shah Alam before changing his career. "Throughout my stay in Shah Alam, I adopted the same work routine for years. And, at the end of the month, I would get my salary. "When I could not see my future in the company, I packed my bags and returned to my hometown to venture into farming." With limited knowledge of agriculture, he sought advice from several people about crops before investing RM3,500 (S$1431) of his savings to plant 100 chilli trees. "It was a gamble that paid off. The demand for chillies began to increase and I began to supply them to grocery shops. In 2009, I enrolled for short courses at Institut Skill-Tech, an agricultural college, in Malacca. "When I returned, I started operating in Kampung Gintong before securing a piece of land at the Temin Agriculture Centre, which was a major boost to my farming venture." Last year, he took on a friend as a partner, before expanding his chilli farm to Sanggang.

Later that year, the partners rented 10ha in Lanchang to plant sugarcane and corn. With higher demand for chillies from grocery shops and restaurants, Wan Fazli set up Global Heritage Resources with two other friends. They are enjoying brisk business. "While one of them helps me manage the farm in Sanggang, the other does the marketing. "We hired agents to promote our chilli products, especially chilli seedlings and fertilisers. "We also sell chilli seedlings at the night market here, and offer training to those who are interested in chilli farming." This year, three students from Institut Skill-Tech did their practical training at his chilli farm. As Wan Fazli had no assistants, their arrival was a win-win situation for both. "I provided them with meals, accommodation and gave them tips on chilli farming. Since they are here, I can go to schools and check on the students' chilli fertilisation projects." A bachelor, Wan Fazli said he enjoyed his new lifestyle, which taught him to be more committed and disciplined."I miss spending time with my family and friends, but I believe these are sacrifices I must make to have a better future. "People used to advise me to continue with my engineering degree so that I could earn more money, rather than slog under the hot sun, but I have made up my mind and have no plans to work in an office." This newspaper report showing the success story of chili farming in Malaysia forr others to knows. Thanks.
By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
TKPM Lanchang,
Temerloh,
Pahang, Malaysia.






Sunday, September 17, 2017

CHILI CONTRACT FARMING - A STORY


HAVE you ever wondered about the story behind your favourite bottle of Maggi Chilli Sauce before savouring it with your meal?. It starts out with the planting of seeds, and then cared for with sufficient amount of water and sunlight for the plants to grow healthily, all within a month. The plants then move into their vegetative phase for the next two months before bearing chillies. The chillies are then harvested throughout its remaining lifespan of three months and delivered to the sorting facility before being sent out to the manufacturing plant to be processed into your favourite condiment. The bottle of delicious chilli sauce would not be possible if not for the dedication and hard work of the people behind Kulai Chillies at the rural farmers in Kelantan. A group of city dwellers were recently brought to the suburban areas of Kelantan to learn about the various roles and efforts involved in producing a bottle of Maggi Chilli Sauce. Mind you, the chilli sauce may look deceptively simple, but planting the chillies is hard work. This article I share in "Anim Agriculture Technology" regarding a report published by local newapaper on the supply of fresh chilies as a testimony for chilies industries in Malaysia.

According to Nestle agricultural services manager Yong Lee Keng, chilli is one of the hardest crops to grow, regardless rain or shine. “In a bid to provide these farmers an increased source of income by helping them grow quality raw materials, Nestle Chilli Club (NCC) was formed in 1995 to work together with them. “The NCC contract farming scheme is a collaboration between Nestle and Pertubuhan Peladang Kawasan Bukit Awang (PPKBA),” said Yong during a media visit to the PPKBA office in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan. Through NCC, farmers are given training on best agricultural practices to improve and grow quality chillies that meet stringent standards as well as exposure to sustainability and environmental concerns. In return, Nestle gets a reliable source of quality fresh chillies while offering a secure market to the farmers with a fair market price. Up to 90% of the chillies produced under this scheme are purchased by Nestle, estimated to meet 60% of Nestle’s fresh chilli requirements for its products. “The season for chilli planting and harvesting is from March to October as we don’t want to fight nature during the monsoon season,” said Yong, adding that the target quota for each season is 200 tonnes of chillies.

PPKBA general manager Wan Anuar Wan Ismail explained that the farmers harvest twice a week and the produce is transported to the collection centre at PPKBA office where quality chillies are sorted and their stalks removed before being transferred to a cold room. “We have five cold rooms with temperatures set between 3°C and 6°C to ensure the freshness of the chillies is preserved before transporting them to the manufacturing plant in Petaling Jaya,” said Wan Anuar, adding that it is best to harvest chillies when they are half green and half red as they will be fully ripen upon processing. The process of removing stalks provides job opportunities to villagers who are paid 20sen to 30sen per kg of good quality chilli. To-date, there are 80 farmers under NCC who produce a regular yield of fresh chillies across 32ha of land for the production of Maggi Chilli Sauce. After the visit to PPKBA's office, we met up with some of the farmers at Gong Kemuning, one of the areas where the chilli farms were located. Abdullah Said, 68, has been a farmer under NCC since 2006. He started with 1,000 chilli plants and now has a 0.6ha land of 4,000 chilli plants. “I harvest 8,000kg to 9,000kg worth of chillies a season which fetch about RM30,000 gross income. “With the increased income aside from my paddy field, I can support my family and grandchildren who live with me,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohamad Nor Yusof, 61, who is also a farmer under NCC, said he could fetch up to RM12,000 nett profit a season with his 0.4ha land of 3,000 chilli plants. According to PPKBA, the cost of one chilli plant ranges from RM2.50 to RM3.00 perkilogram. Through the chilli-farming scheme, the farmers’ income has increased by approximately 70%. To pay tribute to the dedicated chilli farmers in Kelantan, the packaging of the locally produced sauce bears their faces and short stories. In addition, research and development efforts for sustainable and holistic farming practices are carried out at Kebun Dapur Maggi in Kampong Gong Kulim. Aside from finding new methods to improve the chilli crop, the farm also focuses on developing new varieties and soil improvement methods. Meanwhile, a total of 63 students from the agricultural club of SMK Dato’ Ismail were given 1,000 polybags of chilli plants in July, a collaborative project between Nestle, PPKBA and the school to educate the students on chilli planting.

Through NCC, Nestle is also collaborating with Lembaga Zakat and PPKBA to help needy residents at the 15ha agro-economy integrated Desa Alam Shah by giving training on chilli planting while purchasing the produce for Maggi Chilli Sauce. So far, 29 residents have received 0.4ha land for chilli planting, generating an average income of RM1,200 monthly. Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd group corporate affairs director Eliza Mohamed said initiatives such as NCC's ensured the sources of raw materials were fully traceable, which is in line with the company’s principles of responsible sourcing. “In a world where consumers are increasingly concerned about the traceability of products, our ‘Farm-to-Fork’ concept benefits both society and our business. “Underpinning this practice is our business philosophy of Creating Shared Value (CSV), creating a joint benefit for both our shareholders and society at every stage of our value chain, which is at the heart of how Nestle runs its business. “We believe responsible sourcing makes good business sense, and is a significant investment for both NestlĂ©’s future and our suppliers’. “Ultimately, it is about ‘doing well, by doing good’, and this long-term focus spells out our business philosophy". This testimony shows the contract farming in chili growing acivities are practical and succesful. Thanks.
By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Kota Bharu,
Kelantan, Malaysia.
(22 April 2017)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

URBAN AGRICULTURE - MALAYSIAN POLICIES

URBAN AGRICULTURE (or in Malays known as Pertanian Bandar) can be defined shortly as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities. The most striking feature of urban agriculture, which distinguishes it from rural agriculture, is that it is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system whereby urban agriculture is embedded in -and interacting with- the urban ecosystem. Such linkages include the use of urban residents as the source of labourers, use of typical urban resources (like organic waste as compost and urban wastewater for irrigation), direct links with urban consumers, direct impacts on urban ecology (positive and negative), being part of the urban food system, competing for land with other urban functions, being influenced by urban policies and plans, etc. Urban agriculture is not a relict of the past that will fade away (urban agriculture increases when the city grows) nor brought to the city by rural immigrants that will lose their rural habits over time. It is an integral part of the urban system. I write about 'Pertanian bandar' in my other blogs "Anim Agro Technology" that able to linked at animhosnan.blogspot.com. This article I would like to share some related policies and guidance in urban agriculture in Malaysia.

Policies on urban farming in Malaysia are seriously discussed in early 11th Malaysian Plan. There are a few policies in place which are used to promote and support urban farming in Malaysia indirectly. The main policy measure is stated in the National Agro-food Policy (NAP) 2011-2020 which steered the development of the Malaysian agriculture sector. The policy was formulated to address challenges in domestic and global markets to ensure sustainable production for food security and safety. The policy has been put in place to tackle the issue of sustainable agriculture, land scarcity, climate change, human and environmental degradation, and the competitiveness of the agro-food industry with food safety and nutrition aspects along its value chain. It also aims to reform and transform the agro-food industry to become a more modern and dynamic sector. The modernization of the agriculture sector was important, which enables the agriculture activities to be operated in more productive ways, whether in rural or urban areas. The policy emphasized on the use of more modern and dynamic technologies, which is flexible and suitable for limited space such as urban and peri-urban environment. The variety of technologies such as vertical farming, hydroponics, and urban farming kits have been developed by government agencies. Under the Urbanization Program, the National Green Technology Policy (2009) and Green Earth Program (2005) were seen as being relevant to alleviate urban agriculture with particular emphasis on environmental, economic, and social concerns. The three pillars are aimed at improving the quality of life and economic development through the use of technologies and minimize the impact on the environment. The Green Earth Program is intended to encourage farming practices to help reduce expenses per household. The involvement of urban folks in urban farming is expected to reduce their cost of living and improve their economy and well-being. The Putra Jaya Government Administration Center has started the urban farming program by introducing ‘Edible Gardens’ and ‘Community Gardens’. This is to create the awareness and responsibility among communities especially those focused on Putrajaya residents to share the nation’s aspirations.

There is an urgent need for urban farming in Malaysia due to the food crisis and socio-economic needs. Although urban farming agenda in Malaysia is still in the early stages, a strategic effort from government as the key players and various parties, especially promoter, urban farmers and community is able to make its progress. Urban farming can be fully materialized if there is a holistic infrastructure, technologies, and communities, which are important. The government efforts to encourage urban community to participate in the greening program is well accepted. Special attention needs to be given to urban farming and for all that, it should be an outstanding part in the government policy towards sustainable development in line with current needs. Additionally, perhaps as a strategy to realize the policy leveraging agricultural investments is through education and training. They should be implemented to empower knowledge, awareness and attitude of young generations towards urban farming. It is the most important element to improve the cities and provide better services according to the needs of the population. Urban farming is seen as an innovative approach to improve access to healthy food, and simultaneously, boost the economy and society. There is also a need to conduct relevant studies that can help develop policies to encourage more Malaysians to be involved in urban farming. Thanks for sharing this information.

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
agriculture Station,
Serdang, Selangor,
Malaysia.
(6 Rejab 1438H)
3 April 2017.
PUBLISHED ON 9/9/2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

VEGERABLE EASY TO GROW AT HOME!

HOW TO GET FRESH VEGETABLES AT HOME?. It was a simple question that play around for most urban citizens. Most Malaysians are hit by rising costs and the evil GST with not many able to save their money is to grow your own food. Normally to get fresh eating food and literally from your hand-sown seeds isn’t exactly a new idea, what more with the government asking KL citizens to do it. While it may be doable for residents with a plot of land, what about those who live in condominiums who have little to no space to farm?. For me that stays in Malaysian City Capital for many years is adaptable to get the vegetables from Hypermarket around us. Nowadays with the rising cost of living, many Malaysians find it difficult to own landed properties at decent prices, which is why condominiums seem to be the preferred choice nowadays. As of early 2014, the Real Estate Housing Developers Association recorded most of us living in the 1.5 million units of flats, condominiums and service apartments in Malaysia. The question is can living in pigeon holes create a favourable environment for Malaysians to grow their own vegetable patch? And for me the answer is 'YES'. If you don’t even need to be an experienced farmer to make this work. How do we know this? Well… This blog "Anim Agriculture Technology" writer started her vegetable supply right in their housing compound or her condominium balcony. They will  found land too expensive and even buying a house with a garden was too much, but the urge to grow her own food  to be creative. Learning from her neighbours and being part of the team that set up Putrajaya, Precint 9 Edible Project helped the pair convert pots, containers and other storage items into ‘beds’ where their green babies can grow. Department of Agriculture (Urban Agriculture Division) are able to assist urban residents to grow their own fresh vegetables..

What type of vegetable to grow?.

1. Cabbage (Kobis Bunga)
Cabbage head or round cabbage are easily grown with the difficulty level scored at 3/10 according to the scale. The round cabbage are normally grown in cold weather but actually the cabbages grow easily but you have to be patient. You’ll need to wait four to five months before eating it. Sow the seeds in dark and organic soil a dark coloured soil is an indication of healthy soil and plants need nutrients to survive. But actually once it grows into a little seedling, you can transfer it to a bigger pot. Don’t forget to water regularly, and let it see the sun often too. Trimming the leaves speeds up the cabbage to form that head that you see often in the market.


2. Genovese Basil
These crop are originally grown from seed and easy to handle compare to other vegetables. But it scores 3/10 in difficulty level but not for me. Normally most people can cheat by buying the RM5.00 potted plants from Cold Storage supermarket, but why take short cuts?.  Grow them from seeds to go with your homemade special pizza or pesto sauce for your pasta nights. Pluck the leaves off regularly so it encourages fresh leaves to grow. Water and sun regularly. Actually you have to ‘prune‘ it too, which actually means to cut regularly to help fresh leaves grow. Old leaves will discourage the plant from ‘going to seed’ too fast, hence super-speeding their ageing process. ‘Going to seed’ means that the plant is at the end of its life cycle, so if you were to leave it alone, the plant would think that it’s time to ‘die’ soon, hence it produces seed to procreate. Typically, this can happen in a month or two. So if you want to have a longer supply of basil, cutting it regularly will spur the growth of new leaves. It is a weird relationship, but it seems to work.



3. Kangkung


KANGKONG (Impomea aquatica) are one of the popular vgetables gron by Malaysian. To grow kangkong is the easiest to do with difficulty level only scored at 1/10. Kangkong considered the cheapest leafy vegetables but some people says why bother growing it? As an agronomist, I prefer to grow and consume kangkong because it is so easy to grow and saving most of urban citizen a trip to the shops. Think of the time you save from finding parking, queuing to pay and driving home from the supermarket.  Kangkung has a hollow trunk and it loves water. But it is a hardy plant that can be ‘abused’, it won’t be upset if you forget to water it for a few days or even weeks. The young leaves look like claws and when it is older, you can eat the white flowers, known as morning glory as well. The Thais always have it in their menu, stir-fried with chillies or plain with garlic.


4. Edamame beans

 
This beans is medium easy to grow in small area. It's difficulty level scores at 4/10. This favourite Japanese appetiser can be grown on balconies or in containers. Sowed similarly like the other vegetables, water it every three days and make sure it also gets sunlight. It doesn’t climb like vines so it won’t be needing support such as sticks or railing. It grows like a shrub and you should be able to pick the beans in two to three months time. So after your little seeds show its first seedling, move the plant into a medium size pot. Despite thee beans having a furry skin, the biggest problem with this sweet bean is that tree shrews are going steal them first. 

5. Tomatoes (and cucumbers)
TOMATO and CUCUMBER are easy purchased from supermarket and nearby wet market. Actually we can use egg cartons to house your seedlings, on the left cucumbers and right tomatoes. To grow tomato need difficulty level at 4/10. These red jewels are happy in confined spaces as heat and humidity is not really a deterrent, but fruit flies are. So head on to Daiso to get those tiny nets and bag each fruit as you see it form. It requires regular watering and sunlight. Tomatoes love calcium, so an easy way of getting this mineral to them is by crushing some eggshells and scattering the broken bits at the foot of the plant. Cucumbers are a little more fussy. You have to grow it near a railing allow it to climb, feed it plenty of water and fertiliser, and you should get tiny little cucumbers to eat.


6. Lettuce
Tis crop are known as Lettuce or Salad and eaten fresh or semi cooked. The lettuce (Lactuca sativa) are grown at the difficulty level 3/10. You can turn your balcony into a salad bar with this ‘ang moh’ vegetable. Keep them watered regularly and away from direct sunlight. If you have a medium-sized or large box, you can sow the seeds directly in this huge container without transferring it from smaller pots as we have done with the other plants. If you want to really get into the ‘farm’ mode, grow them in rows, and it should line up nicely. Green salad leaves can be ready to eat in three to five months time. Snails love them too, and if you’re living on the ground floor, these slimy leave eaters can get to it, slowly but easily. You can crush some egg shells and scatter them around the lettuce leaves, this deters the snails as they don’t like to glide over the pokey shells. Egg shells are a natural source of calcium too. The lettuce you grow may not be in supermarket sizes, so you may have to grow twice the amount you want to eat.


7. Choy Sum
This vegetable are easy to grow in urban area with hydroponic system or grow at your own in a planter box. It difficulty level at 3/10. This vegetables are literally translated from Cantonese as Heart Veggie (or vegetable with a heart), it can grow easily in pots or seen here in a planter box, where you hang it off the railing. When you handle the seeds, be careful not to lose them. They are super tiny (kind of like mustard seeds), so it’s best to have delicate hands when you are sowing them. Place them in a tiny pot with soil and water, and once they sprout say about four inches off the soil, you can transfer them into a bigger container. Planting choy sum together makes them ‘compete’ with each other, hence making them grow faster. You’ll need to water regularly and provide them with plenty of sunlight. The leaves are naturally sweet, so you have to beware of pests. You can deter snails with the eggshell tip the same way you protect your lettuce, as its jaggedly edges discourages snails from getting close to your plants. Thanks.

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Taman Padang Permai,
Kuantan, Malaysia.
(6 April 2017)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

CROP INSURANCE - PROTECT FARMERS

What is CROP INSURANCE?. Crop insurance is purchased by agricultural producers, including farmers, ranchers, and others to protect themselves against either the loss of their crops due to natural disasters, such as hail, drought, and floods, or the loss of revenue due to declines in the prices of agricultural commodities.The Malaysian Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry will soon introduce “crop insurance” to protect farmers from risks linked to climate change such as drought, diseases and floods (See photo above). In its first phase talk about crop insurance in Malaysia exists with the crop insurance will cover only padi. Later, it will include other agriculture activities such as livestock, agro-food commodities such as fruits and vegetables as well as the fisheries sector said minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. The insurance would make the agriculture sector more attractive to investors and give the farmers peace of mind, knowing that they were protected from the risk of any unfortunate eventualities. Ahmad Shabery said the ministry had identified strategies to increase export and control imports such as intensifying production and efficiency, enhancing the competitiveness of Malaysian products and developing import substitution, which included changing Malaysian lifestyles to create more demand for local products.

The proposal also import a vast amount of animal feed such as soy and maize. We will explore how these can be grown on our own farms. Ahmad Shabery said the ministry would carry out a mid-term review of the National Agro-Food Policy (NAP) soon. NAP outlines the directions for agro-food development from 2011 to 2020. It has generally taken into account the effects of climate change. “Although the main reason for the mid-term review is to evaluate our current achievements compared to what we have planned before, new challenges such as climate change and new opportunities such as exports of our agro-food will also be considered,” he said. Ahmad Shabery said the review would take into account food sovereignty as the country must not only be able to produce its own food but also be able to export it. “History has proven that in times of war or peace, the sovereignty of a nation can be easily crippled by its over-dependence on foreign sources of food,” he said. But he said that Malaysia has adequate food items with self-sufficiency levels (SSL) for fish, vegetables and poultry being at least 90% despite the hefty food import bill. The SSL for rice, a staple food for Malaysians, is about 70% and the remainder includes special varieties such as fragrant, basmati, brown and glutinous rice. For other food items such as poultry, the SSL stands at 105%, eggs (120%), fruits (100%), fish (90%), vegetables (90%), beef (28%) and milk (13%). But he conceded that much of the food consumed by Malaysians was still imported. Thanks...
By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Sawah Lubuk Leka,
Maran, Pahang,
Malaysia
(23 April 2017)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

LAND REQUIRED FOR GRAIN CORN INDUSTRY

 
Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

KEMAMAN - The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry requires at least 300,000 hectares of land to turn maize grain cultivation as a new agricultural industry to meet domestic livestock requirements, said its Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. In order to achieve this objective, he said, it was necessary for the federal and state governments to extend their cooperation in preparing to expand the new industry. "It is not as easy as it seems because we need the support of everyone including the central and state governments as they have plenty of idle land," he told reporters after launching a national seminar on the Development of Grain Corn Industry, here today. Also present were Agriculture Department director-general Datuk Ahmad Zakaria Mohamad Sidek and State Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman Datuk Mohamad Pehimi Yusof. Ahmad Shabery said a grain corn pilot project had been implemented since March in Kampung Dadong, near here and the second harvest from the 30-hectare site had produced about 200 tonnes. The success of this project has changed the mindset of local farmers who had the idea that it was impossible for the country to produce grain corn as the main source of food for livestock.


Apart from Dadong, the grain corn were also cultivated in Ru Tapai, Setiu and Kuala Berang, Hulu Terengganu and several other areas on trial basis, in an attempt to produce high quality grain corn. "I believe the Terengganu government can take into consideration the required acreage and number of farmers needed to develop this new grain corn cultivation as a model industry," he said. He said last year the country imported RM46.74 billion worth of agricultural produce while exports were estimated at RM30.15 billion which resulted in a trade deficit of RM16.59 billion. He added that the country's food trade deficit was, among others, contributed by imports of agricultural produce especially grain corn from Argentina, Brazil and the United States. At the seminar Ahmad Shabery also presented incentives to 291 corn grain entrepreneurs nationwide which involved an allocation of RM4,191,590. Terengganu had the largest number of participants with 138 recipients sharing an allocation of RM1,656,590. 
This report from -BERNAMA.
By,
M Anem 
Senior Agronomist,
Kg Dadong, Kemaman,
Terengganu, Malaysia.
(July 2017).

Monday, August 7, 2017

HAVE FOOD, HAVE POWER (Part 4)


"HAVE FOOD, HAVE POWER" it is clear when he starts talking about the subject that it is a topic close to the heart of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. Without a doubt, “food sovereignty” is not just a buzzword for the 57-year-old politician who has been overseeing the country’s agricultural affairs for over a year now. Even after a long, hot, afternoon ploughing through the new maize (corn) farm in Kampung Dadong, near Kemaman, Terengganu, Ahmad Shabery is indefatigable as he shares his aspiration to make the country self-sustainable in its agro-food production, and more. Food sovereignty, or the rights of a nation to produce its own food and not depend on imported food supplies to feed its population, is an important policy for Malaysia to adopt, he stresses. “Our country is currently importing more food than it is producing and exporting, which puts us at the mercy of foreign countries,” he says, referring to Malaysia’s food import bill last year, which was reported at RM45.39bil. Our food export amounted to only RM27bil, leaving us with a deficit of over RM18bil. It is a heavy economic burden, and that is why the Government has been aiming at self-sufficiency for some time, he adds. Once we achieve self-sustainability in our food production, it could eventually lead to food sovereignty.


9. Can we have food sovereignty with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and Asean Economic Community?
We have no choice, even without them, we will have other trade agreements and partnerships that we have to open up to. TPPA will force us to be more competitive. For instance, countries with the lowest costs of poultry farming are the US and Brazil because they grow their own feed and have a lot of mechanisation. The prices of their chicken is therefore low. So under TPPA, it will be difficult for us to stop them from entering our market. But that doesn’t mean we should just accept it. We have to improve our own capabilities to compete with them. We also need to look at it as an opportunity to bargain and market our own products - we have other agro-products that are cheaper than theirs.

10. Climate experts forecast that we will experience La Nina later in the year. Are our farmers prepared?
We cannot stop our agricultural activities because of the weather. In fact, the weather is part of the risk in agriculture. We need to mitigate it. We are also looking at crop insurance to protect farmers from risks linked to climate change such as drought, diseases and floods. In its first phase, the crop insurance will cover only padi. Later, it will include other agriculture activities such as livestock, agrofood commodities such as fruits and vegetables as well as the fisheries sector. The insurance will make the agriculture sector more attractive to investors, while giving farmers a peace of mind.

11. What about climate change? What are the ministry’s plans in facing climate change?
Again, we cannot stop the extreme weather, but there are cycles - like El Nino and La Nina - so we are looking at how we can deal with each cycle to mitigate the impact on our food crops, livestock and fish. The National Agro-Food policy has also taken into account the effects of climate change. We also need our researches and experts to come up with new solutions to the challenges that we will face in agriculture due to climate change as well as look at ways to improve our food production. For instance, they can look at how we can develop new variety of seeds and plants that can make our crops more able to weather the changes in our climate. We are lucky, though, that our weather is not as extreme as other countries - we don’t get hurricanes or cyclones as the ones in China or Taiwan. Thanks..

Original info from local newspaper and published.

Rearranged by,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Kg Dadong, Kemaman,
Terengganu, Malaysia.
(Attended the official grain corn planting by Minister)