Malaysia’s government announced the National Agrofood Policy 2021-2030 (NAP 2.0) aims to transform the agro-food industry into a competitive, sustainable, and high-technology sector to boost economic growth.
Our agriculture sector is mostly managed by older generation with traditional agricultural practices. The production of four major commodity crops – natural rubber, fresh fruit bunches (oil palm), cocoa beans, and kenaf (dried stem) in 2021 showed a decreasing trend as compared to 2020. Though the production of fresh fruit bunches (oil palm) was the highest among the agricultural commodities, its production decreased by 5,575.6 thousand tonnes with 5.7 per cent as compared to previous year.
Like in Penang, agriculture is divided into three subsectors namely livestock farming, fishery, and crop farming. They contribute to Penang’s reputation as a “food haven” by providing a diverse local produce selection. “Penang’s agriculture accounts for more than a third of its total land area but, it only contributes about 2% to GDP”, Penang’s Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said.
Although Penang was amongst the top states with the highest rice production per annum in the country, it relies on imports of fruits and vegetables consumed locally. The challenge is to produce sufficient food to make Penang a “Greener, Safer, Cleaner, and Happier, and Healthier” state.
Agriculture should not be overlooked simply because industrialisation has propelled Penang to new heights; agriculture, too, plays a significant role in poverty reduction and economic growth by modernising and diversifying agricultural crops.
Penang is trying to establish its state as a high tech Green Valley by promoting urban farming, leveraging technology, and advancing the agriculture value chain. Thanks to ams OSRAM, a LEDs manufacturer for worldwide distribution for more than 20 years, sponsored Agri Tech 2022 participated by selected primary schools and secondary schools.
During the 6-month programme, students learned the fundamentals of agriculture and created a research project using grow LEDs with the help of OSRAM volunteers and teachers who served as mentors. In addition, the Penang Science Cluster (PSC) also took part to inspire the students in agriculture education, how they can integrate with science, technology, and innovation.
Through this initiative, students gain more understanding of the current trend of agricultural practises as well as problems faced, such as food security. Malaysia needs to improve its food supply, and the involvement of youth in the agricultural sector is crucial to ensure that agricultural production is increased to a satisfactory level to ensure the national food supply is guaranteed.
This had raised serious concerns about the economic plight of smallholders, who continue to be the backbone of the agricultural sector.
 Penang Green Agenda 2030: Governance and institutions. https://www.pgc.com.my/2020/wp content/uploads/2020/09/8_PGA-Sectoral-Formatted-Final-Report_GOV.pdf