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Food Security in Malaysia

The economy is expected to collapse by 4.5 percent in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, with approximately 100,000 people losing their employment since the start of the movement control order (MCO).

Food supply has been enough, and markets have remained steady, therefore there have been only few interruptions in the food chain. With the help of integrated supply chain services in Malaysia, we were able to keep food supply chains alive and reduce the pandemic’s effects throughout the food system. 

However, at the household level, particularly among the lowest B40, the pandemic’s effects are increasingly crippling their ability to purchase healthy and cheap food, particularly for those that spend up to 70% of their income on food.

There is no tolerance for complacency in 2021. By the first half of 2021, another 135 million people are expected to endure severe food insecurity on a global scale.

Weather-related shocks, millions of jobs lost across the agricultural value chain, food price spikes, and financial losses affecting hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized local organisations that are critical to the integrity of food supply chains around the world could exacerbate the fragilities in the production and supply of food.

In the short term, it’s critical to continue to closely monitor food prices and strengthen market supervision, as well as to ensure effective delivery of agricultural inputs, such as feed, smooth logistical operations of regional agricultural and food supply chains, and the smooth flow of trade, all while utilising the international market to secure food supply and demand.

In the medium term, numerous efforts can be considered to improve food security readiness in the event of another pandemic or other severe disasters:

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1. Farmers must have ongoing market access. Efforts should be stepped up by combining private market and government procurement.

2. Assure that agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, and livestock feed are available at all times in order to ensure continued food production;

3. Maintain adequate food storage in the event of a crisis;

4. Ensure continuous livelihood aid for consumers whose livelihoods have been cut off as a result of MCO, particularly among the urban poor who do not have a regular employment; and

5. Promote and encourage the digitization of the food supply chain from farms to consumers. Migrant labourers will be less needed as a result of digitization.

Beyond the pandemic, long-term actions to ensure the country’s food security must be enacted. The private sector’s involvement and the coexistence of estate plantations and smallholders are important factors in the success of industrial crops.