ACCIN urges Government to give tax free incentives for high tech intensive Agriculture projects in Budget 2023
ACCIN urges the Government to give tax free incentives for high tech intensive agricultural projects in Budget 2023 to boost food production and security. It is hoped with these incentives, large companies and individuals will move into efficient and profitable areas of the agriculture sector including animal husbandry.
Our import bill is an astronomical RM 55.5 billion in 2021 importing 60% of our food needs. Import of beef has reached RM 2.2 billion annually. Compared with 15% food imports by the United States and Thailand being a huge net exporter of food.
The falling ringgit undoubtedly will add a severe burden on Malaysia’s food bill, increasing the fiscal deficit and causing increase in food prices for the average man on the street. There is an urgent need to increase food production. This monumental task cannot be left to incompetent politicians but must be given to proven experts in their field.
Years of neglect
How did we come to this? Years of neglect of the agriculture sector resulted in continued increase of percentage of food import despite serious concerns of food security and costs. We even have lawyer politician being Minister of Agriculture.
It is time that leadership in ministries with specific and specialised functions, for example Agriculture, Health, Defense, Finance, Industry and Foreign Affairs be given to experts in their respective fields in order to have an outstanding effect on output instead of an average one.
There is a need to get established companies and young individuals involved in intensive agricultural activities, aquaculture and animal husbandry. This will solve part of the educated youth unemployment dilemma and develop agriculture as a life time business opportunity.
We need to encourage innovation in how we produce food responsibly not only to improve food security but to reduce environmental impact and costs. The National Food Security Action Plan 2021 – 25 is a good start.
Towards this, we need to take a page out of Thailand’s success story in food production. Thailand’s success as the only net food exporter in Asia is a foundation for future achievement as the Kingdom uses new technology to plan to become one of the top five food exporting countries in the world in the next 20 years, according to plans and recommendations issued by the National Food Institute, a government agency.
Thailand’s superb quality jasmine fragrant rice, bountiful shrimp, delicious fruits and delectable cuisine already have well-established reputations around the world. Industry analysts however believe that current levels of food exports provide just a taste of what the Kingdom can accomplish. Thailand’s food output also makes a significant contribution to regional and global food security, an increasingly important issue considering the effects of climate change and haywire currency exchange rates.
One example of Thailand’s growing prowess in new food technology was the announcement by the Thai Research Fund that it is working with the Royal Projects Foundation in developing a new strain of strawberries with properties that help fight cancer. The strawberries contain high levels of anthocyanin, an anti-carcinogen, aside from being full of flavor.
Thailand ranks 13th among global food exporters, with a value of roughly US$27 billion per year. To achieve its 20-year goal, Thailand should reach the top 10 in food exports within a decade, with an export value of US$63 billion, said the NFI.
It is time the Government seriously and wisely look at turning the tide of food imports and food insecurity. The coming budget can set the way to incentivise high technology and intensive modern agriculture activities to significantly boost our national food production and food security.
Ir Mohd Jamaludin Shamsudin
23rd September 2023
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