Food security takes centre stage with growing population

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A CONCERTED effort is being made to address food security issues in the state, Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Stephen Rundi Utom assured lawmakers today.

He said this was being done by focusing on improving the network performance in all activities related to production, processing, distribution as well as preparation of food.

Rundi said food security, if not given serious attention, will have a far-reaching impact on the socio-economic health of the state’s population.

“As our population grows, the demand for food also increases. Statistics show that the production of our key staple foods is declining while our food imports have increased.

“We must quickly address the production issue and stockpile of our key food items,” he said in his ministerial winding up speech in the House.

He emphasised that the need to maintain the state’s rice supply and stock is crucial in achieving food security.

“The current rice production, however, can only meet 38 per cent of Sarawak’s rice requirement,” he said.

Attaining a satisfactory rice self-sufficiency level of 60 per cent has been targeted to be achieved by 2030, Rundi, adding said his ministry has outlined six key initiatives to boost rice production in Sarawak.

“These include rehabilitating and upgrading infrastructure at 14 existing drainage and irrigation schemes throughout Sarawak involving 2,829 hectares; developing new areas for paddy cultivation; to actively pursue the public-private partnership model to increase private sector involvement to invest in paddy cultivation; promotion of farm mechanisation and automation to paddy planters to increase productivity; production of quality paddy seed; and provision of paddy production incentive to farmers and producers to boost domestic paddy production,” he explained.

Rundi also pointed out that his ministry has set a target to achieve 25 per cent self-sufficiency level (SSL) for both beef and mutton by 2030 to improve food security in the ruminant sector.

“In 2021, the SSL for beef was 12 per cent and 5.5 per cent for mutton. To achieve these SSL, we need to have a standing population of around 50,000 heads of cows and buffalo and 100,000 heads of sheep and goats.”

The current population of these ruminants is considerably low in comparison to the high demand for beef and mutton, resulting in the increasing volume of imports to meet the rising domestic consumption, he noted.

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