Kuala Lumpur (The Star/ANN) - The Malaysian government will double the country's rice yield by 2020 in preparation for a possible global food crisis.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Noh Omar said the domestic rice yield had to be increased to eight tonnes per hectare from the present four metric tonnes per hectare for the country to be self-sufficient.
"We are currently producing enough rice to sustain 70 per cent of the country's consumption, while 30 per cent is imported.
"By 2020, we hope to produce enough to sustain 80 per cent, with only 20 per cent imported. This is to ensure the country's food security," Noh told reporters after opening the 8th Malaysian International Agro-Bio Business Conference, which was held simultaneously with the 13th Malaysia International Food and Beverage Trade Fair (MIFB) 2012 at PWTC yesterday.
The conference will end today while MIFB 2012 will run until tomorrow.
Noh said domestic rice yield increased more than two per cent this year, and that the current national rice stockpile stood at 292,000 tonnes which was enough to sustain the population up to six months.
He added that Malaysia had been spending more than 92 million (US$28.83 million) a day on food imports between January and October last year.
"This shows that we are relying more and more on other countries, which puts us in a fragile position when faced with the global food crisis," he said.
Noh said there must be concerted efforts by all parties in addressing the underlying problems related to the country's food security, given the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recent reports that worldwide food demand will surpass supply by 2050.
The report also showed that international agricultural prices would remain significantly high for at least the next decade.
Noh said the National Agro-Food Policy, which was launched by the prime minister in January, was put in place to tackle national food security issues.
"This policy will ensure there is sufficient food stock, which is also safe for consumption."
He added: "My ministry has lined up specific strategies to achieve the policy's objectives, including developing the agro-food industry which focuses on areas related to rice, fishery, livestock and horticulture."