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Pro-PH activist calls for Felda-style white paper on agriculture

Mazlan Aliman says millions of farmers will be affected if issues concerning food security are not addressed.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
An aerial view of padi fields at a village in Sekinchan, Kuala Selangor.
An aerial view of padi fields at a village in Sekinchan, Kuala Selangor.

A farmers' association has urged Putrajaya to present a white paper on agriculture, to tackle the issue of food security as the government led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim passes the half-year mark without any concrete policy on the matter in place. 

Pertubuhan Gerak Tani said this would allow the government to discuss food security policies as well as other problems faced by farmers.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, its chairman Mazlan Aliman said that the farmers at the forefront of the country's food production felt as though they had been neglected when they should in fact be one of the government's priorities. 

He also said that the prime minister had promised to address the issue of poverty in the country. 

"We need to realise the importance of food security," Mazlan, an Amanah member, said. 

"It looks as if the focus on this matter is not on the right track. The farmers are a large community and they are committed to advancing the agricultural sector. 

"But guidance from the government, especially agencies and departments, is quite unfocused." 

The agriculture and food security ministry led by Amanah president Mohamad Sabu received the lowest marks in a recent Cabinet review, giving rise to questions on his ability to tackle food-related issues in the country. 

The Kota Raja MP was previously criticised on social media over problems in the supply of chicken and eggs, which in turn caused a jump in prices. 

Mazlan said the agriculture white paper should be presented during the current Dewan Rakyat session, to prove the government's commitment to resolving the issues faced by the farmers. 

Adding that only the health ministry was expected to present a white paper on its issues, he said any failure to address the woes of farmers would affect millions. 

He said the issue involved not only the agriculture and food security ministry but also the economy ministry and the Prime Minister's Department. 

"The Cabinet should meet and discuss the steps to be taken and whether such a white paper is needed," he said. 

"This involves millions of farmers, many of whom are part of the low-income group. 

"The prime minister has spoken of efforts to eradicate poverty, but how are we to achieve this goal if measures for the poor are not laid out?"

Mazlan proposed that the government take the same approach as that of the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, which presented a white paper on Felda to detail its efforts to resolve issues involving the settler community. 

"Now, the focus is on agriculture," he said. 

"We have not seen any positive efforts to address extreme weather conditions, or innovations with which to face such issues. 

"This is why the matter must be brought to the Cabinet before it is presented in Parliament for the leaders to find a solution together." 

The Felda white paper was presented in 2019 by Mohamed Azmin Ali, the PH minister in charge of the economy at the time. 

Among others, it discussed issues related to land rental for settlers, development programmes for them to obtain new sources of revenue, farm management through the strengthening of Felda cooperatives, the use of technology, and the introduction of a more flexible aid scheme.