Make sustainable agriculture mainstream

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) calls on the government to mainstream sustainable agriculture in Malaysia. Malaysia is currently facing increasing challenges in the form of food price increases and climate change, requiring a re-look at the agriculture sector and agricultural policies.
It is clear that there is a need for a radical overhaul of the agriculture sector in order for the country to be able to produce the food it needs, in an environmentally sustainable way which does not threaten the agricultural productivity base.

Conventional agriculture, exemplified by the Green Revolution, is based on intensive agrochemical use, and is no longer sustainable and has led to productivity declines. It is also extremely fossil fuel intensive, particularly due to the dependence on chemical fertilisers. As fuel prices increase, Malaysia has been left with a chemical fertiliser import bill of RM5bil, which has doubled from the previous year.

CAP urges the relevant authorities, particularly the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry to look seriously at the potential of sustainable agriculture to meet the nation’s food security needs. Ample evidence shows that sustainable agriculture is productive and can raise farm incomes.

Crucially, as climate change is becoming an increasingly important issue, sustainable agriculture can contribute to both climate mitigation and adaptation.

The Third National Agricultural Policy provides a basis for initiatives in sustainable agriculture. What is needed now is to upscale and mainstream efforts, by providing the appropriate policy, research, and financing and institutional support to sustainable agriculture.

Until and unless this is done, Malaysia may well be facing more food crises in the future.