PETALING JAYA: A group of farmers from Perak marched to Parliament today to submit a memorandum urging the government to address the “deeply alarming” food security situation as part of its 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) mid-term review.
Supported by Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and Lawan Lapar, a movement which aims to ensure food security in Malaysia, the farmers submitted a memorandum highlighting the country’s reliance on imports to meet its domestic food demands.
The memorandum noted that food imports have jumped 75-fold since 1990, and that data from the agriculture and food security ministry showed that Malaysia’s rice stocks will only last six months should international supply chains break down.
The memorandum was accepted by representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the agriculture and food security ministry, and Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who is also the Muar MP.
The farmers want the government to implement new systems and expand existing systems of gazetting permanent food producing land. It said such systems must be implemented through the acquisition of state land by the federal government.
The memorandum urged the federal government to reform land laws, specifically to extend the maximum duration of temporary occupation licences (TOLs) from one year to five years.
It called for transparency in state land deals to prevent corruption and ensure the interests of the public, including food producing communities, are protected.
It also said the government should create a subsidy system to encourage state governments to preserve agricultural land, which directly contributes to the country’s domestic food supply.
According to PSM chairman Michael Jeyakumar, about 1,600 acres which had been used to produce vegetables had been “given to developers” over the last 15 years.
“This not only deprives farmers of their agricultural land, but also poses a significant food security threat,” he said.
He proposed a royal commission of inquiry, in collaboration with the Perak government, to reassess the decision to sell these plots of land.
He also proposed a leasing system which allows for land utilisation by farmers for an indefinite period, with an option to return it to the government for re-leasing to other farmers as necessary.