Crop insurance to protect farmers from risks

06 Apr 2016

The 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.

“In its first phase, 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, he said, 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.

“We 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.

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