PETALING JAYA: Farmers are hoping the government will consider giving a RM100 subsidy for each tonne of vegetables they produce. Malaysia Federation of Vegetable Farmers Association president Lim Ser Kwee said the government should allocate funds to agriculture to help increase efficiency and ensure food security.

He said the federation suggested the government give out the subsidy under Budget 2023, which will be retabled on Feb 24.

Lim said the government carried out a similar exercise in 2009, giving RM81 for each tonne produced.

“With the increase in operational costs, many farmers would no longer be able to sustain their business, and this will not help the country in terms of food self-sufficiency,” he said.

Lim added that subsidising vegetables will help farmers implement innovative agricultural practices.

“The government should provide incentives and allowances to encourage farmers to grow (more) rather than rely on imported vegetables.

“Malaysia’s climate is suited for the cultivation of all types of vegetables. For example, Cameron Highlands can produce over 200 to 300 tonnes of vegetables per day, and if the government could give subsidies to farmers, it could encourage more people to take up farming,” he said.

Besides, he claimed that scarcity of farming land was a significant problem currently faced by many farmers in the country, which hinders productivity further.

Farmers can only invest so much in increasing productivity when there is massive uncertainty over the tenure of their farming land.

“We hope the government can look into the vegetable farmers’ problems, and we hope Budget 2023 will bring good news for farmers,” he said.

Federation of Malaysia Fruit Farmers Association president Lawrence Ting urged the government to help farmers implement modern farming methods to ensure food security.

He said modern farming methods would also enable farmers to produce more with automation by eliminating the need for intensive labour.

“After the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and global inflation, the government should be aware of our food crisis.

“They should start studying sustainable food production, increase land for farming, use AI (artificial intelligence), and automate the industry.

“We need the government to set up databases, including monitoring harvests, weather patterns, and plant and soil quality, to improve production,” he added.