Source: @fotokostic (123rf)

Penang’s agriculture industry has three subsectors: livestock farming, fishing, and crop farming. They offer a diverse selection of local produce and contribute to the public image as a “food haven.” However, agriculture in Penang accounts for only about 2% of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so this economic sector needs adequate reserve food security. According to the Penang Green Agenda 2030, agricultural land contributes to approximately 40% of the state’s landmass and has been falling steadily and is likely to continue to decline in the future.

Agriculture may not be the leading economic sector in the state due to land scarcity but retains its output by increasing productivity to provide food security and a primary source of income for residents. With the Penang2030 and national food agricultural policy planning visions, the Penang state government promotes agriculture and livestock breeding activities to increase local food production by transforming it into a more sustainable, technologically advanced, productive, high-value, and competitive intensive sector.

Penang is self-sufficient in livestock breeding, caged fish farming, and large-scale paddy planting. In fact, paddy and seafood are exported to other states and are significant contributors to the state’s economy. The Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow also considers applications to set up small-scale corn plantations to produce an alternative source for chicken feed on Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) if farmers wish to plant corn.

Currently, most Penang TOL land applications are only for planting fruits. The concession for TOL land needs to be renewed annually and is more suitable for short-term planting. As a result, small-scale corn cultivation is an excellent choice for Penang farmers because it could rotate with other fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, and bananas. Furthermore, corn can be used in many ways, as almost all parts of the crop can be utilised for animal feed and human food like breakfast cereals, corn syrup, corn starch, lysine and cooking oil.

Penang strongly encourages farming and livestock rearing activities. Application for TOL land for grain corn small-scale cultivation projects is a good start to reaching medium and long-term food security targets. Agriculture, as stated in the Penang Green Agenda 2030, can be an appealing sector for millennials to grow into if contemporary farming methods and adequate technological edge are used. When incorporated into local plans, sustainable agriculture can attract long-term investment in the future by addressing quantity, adequacy, nutrition and food safety, affordability, and accessibility.