Where have the greens gone, asks Ridhuan Tee

teePETALING JAYA: Controversial preacher Ridhuan Tee Abdullah has lamented the state of agriculture in Malaysia, despite the country being blessed with fertile soil and the millions of ringgit pumped into the industry.

In his weekly column in Sinar Harian, Tee questioned why Malaysia was still reliant on food imports rather than being an exporter of agriculture products.

“Where have the good policies, such as the National Agriculture Policy and the Green Book that aimed to increase agricultural output and competitiveness, gone?”

Tee said in 2006, the government revived a campaign to boost the industry, focusing on crops, livestock and aquaculture, with the ultimate aim of reducing the cost of living of the people by increasing food supply and encouraging locals to produce their own food.

He said the government allocated RM15 million in 2008 for the first phase, with RM5 million disbursed. The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry set a goal of 187,000 families in 2,880 villagers and residences in the country to be part of the campaign.

“What is the result? We are far behind in the agricultural industry compared with Thailand and other countries, when the industry should be our forte.”

He criticised the agriculture department and agencies for trying to follow their own paths and show their respective “strengths”, when by right they should combine their expertise to improve the industry.

Commenting on the shortage of beef and poultry, and skyrocketing prices during Hari Raya Puasa, Tee said as a Muslim, he was embarrassed that Malaysia was better known as a pork exporter, despite a lower demand for the meat in comparison with beef, mutton and chicken.

He said the focus on agriculture should be geared towards filling the stomachs of the people, rather than profit, in reference to recent suggestions to turn ketum into a commercial crop.

“If in the future, our country is hit by economic sanctions by a bigger power, will we be self-sufficient or will we starve to death?”

“Will we be forced to eat haram meat because we are too reliant on imported meat?” he asked.