TELUK INTAN: The government aims to increase the gross domestic product (GDP) contribution of the agro-food sector from 3.3 per cent to 5 per cent by 2020.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the sub-sector had contributed a total of RM36.5 billion to the GDP last year.
“I would like to throw this challenge to the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry in improving the percentage to 5 per cent before the end of 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).
He said in terms of food import, the country had last year spent RM46.8 billion compared to RM30.2 billion of exports, resulting in a RM16.6 billion deficit.
“In improving agriculture production, we should look into methods especially in optimising and utilising vacant lands,” he said after opening the Gelombang Tani Nasional 2017 at the Agriculture and Food Business Development Centre in Degong, here.
Meanwhile, Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said a task force would be set up to draw up a strategic plan to increase the country’s food production.
“For instance, we are still importing about 30 per cent (2.6 million tonnes) of rice every year. We are looking at increasing it to 1 million tonnes a year by opening up new paddy fields in Kota Belud, Sabah; Pekan and Rompin, Pahang; and Batang Lupar, Sarawak,” he said at a press conference after the event.