Sustainable agriculture plays a critical role in addressing the pressing challenges faced by Penang, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve undergoing rapid urbanisation. This region is grappling with increased environmental stress while also experiencing a growing demand for food resources. For example, the continuous loss of agricultural land poses a significant challenge to the sector. As Penang continues to urbanise and land values rise, farmers are tempted to convert agricultural land legally and illegally. The continuous loss of agricultural land, combined with the threats posed by climate change, will place enormous strain on the sector in the future. Penang also has to combat issues such as soil degradation, water pollution, and biodiversity loss, Penang must prioritise sustainable agricultural practices, including organic farming, efficient water management, biodiversity conservation, and reduced chemical usage.
These practices not only mitigate environmental threats but also ensure the long-term availability of locally produced, nutritious, and affordable food. This is essential for food security and resilience, particularly in the face of climate change and global market fluctuations.
Agricultural transformation is also key to economic development in Penang. It leads to increased rural income, enhanced farm productivity, and higher demand in local markets. As countries progress economically, this transformation results in expanded agro-processing, job diversification, and a shift towards a more efficient and less labour-intensive agricultural sector.
Agriculture contributes just 2% of Penang’s GDP but remains vital for ensuring regional food security. Recognising its significance, the Federal Government has allocated RM21.657 million to enhance Penang’s agricultural sector this year. Penang’s Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow, emphasised the importance of this support, stating, “With this aid, we aim to align with the National Agrofood Policy 2021-2030 (DAN 2.0) to develop a sustainable high-tech agro-food sector that will stimulate the economy.
Penang is now focusing on a new tourism icon that combines agrotourism and the agricultural sector. The Paya Terubong Agrotourism project, to be developed by KAT Resources Sdn Bhd on leased Penang Development Corporation (PDC) land spanning approximately 165 hectares, is a key initiative in this direction. According to Teoh Kok Aun, the CEO of KAT Resources, the project will allocate RM20 million to agriculture development and infrastructure work in the first five years.
An additional RM20 million is expected to be invested in tourism development, particularly aimed at fostering economic growth through fruit crop tourism due to its high-yield potential. The project also includes recreational activities such as glamping, flying fox, hiking, and other outdoor activities, which are projected to create 400 jobs, with 300 in the agricultural sector and 100 in the tourism sector. This integrated approach will help modernise and diversify sustainable agriculture while contributing to the region’s economic growth.
 Lo Tern Chern. RM21mil allocated to develop Penang’s agro-food sector. The Star, August 9, 2023. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/08/09/rm21mil-allocated-to-develop-penang039s-agro-food-sector
 Imran Hilmy. Penang eyes new agrotourism site. 15 September, 2023. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/09/15/penang-eyes-new-agrotourism-site
 Audrey Dermawan. Paya Terubong Agrotourism project — a new tourism icon for Penang. September 14, 2023. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2023/09/955272/paya-terubong-agrotourism-project-%E2%80%94-new-tourism-iconpenang#:~:text=GEORGE%20TOWN%3A%20Penang%20will%20have,area%20of%20about%20165%20hectares