Address food security issues to ensure sufficiency, says Perak Sultan

IPOH: The world is about to face an unprecedented hunger crisis, says Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah (pic).

The Sultan of Perak said the world was currently facing an issue with food security and shortages, which was getting worrisome.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic could end, the world is now paying the high price due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“Shortage of food supplies in the market not only caused prices to shoot up but will also bring greater risk to mankind,” he said during the state-level Maal Hijrah celebration at Casuarina Convention Centre here on Saturday (July 30).

“Food has now been turned into a weapon of war.

“It is currently reported that every day, one-eighth of the world’s seven billion people do not have enough food, which is a very basic human need and a determining factor for national stability,” he said.

“In the context of our country, food security means that we have enough food supplies that are affordable, nutritious or in good condition to meet the daily needs of 32 million people on a regular basis,” he added.

Sultan Nazrin said Malaysia could stand on the brink of a food security emergency if no efforts were being made to ensure the people’s demand for food can be met.

He said the alarm bells have already sounded as people were experiencing a shortage of eggs, chicken, vegetables and cooking oil.

“The price of food ingredients, especially imported ingredients, is forecasted to continue to rise due to the disruption of the supply chain due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in addition to the depreciation of the ringgit.

“With many food-producing countries like China and India increasing their own stockpiles, Malaysia too needs strategic measures to be introduced to ensure the demand of its 32 million population can be met,” he said.

“Malaysia only produces 70% of rice, 66% of fruits and 48% of the vegetables that we need,” he said, adding that the country was the ninth largest importer of rice, importing rice worth US$620mil (RM2.7bil) in 2020.

“To meet domestic needs annually, Malaysia imports 88% of mutton worth RM879mil, 76% of beef worth RM2.2bil and mangoes worth RM87.9mil,” he said.

“We also import RM266mil worth of coconuts, although coconut trees can grow and bear fruit easily in our country,” he said, adding that other goods being imported included coffee, onions, potatoes, squid, fresh milk, round cabbage, chilli and ginger.

“In the three years that we were impacted by Covid-19, it highlighted the critical status of the lack of food supply in the country, until we needed help from other countries to ensure that we have enough food supply,” he added.