KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — The high-growth, high-value (HGHV) initiative for the agriculture sector through the 12th Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review is one of the government’s efforts to address the issue of food security in the country.

Director of the Agriculture Division, Ministry of Economy Datin Zaeidah Mohamed Esa said several programmes would be implemented under the HGHV initiative, such as modern and low-carbon agriculture, as well as increasing the involvement of young people, including through the Farming Entrepreneur Initiative (Intan).

“Our target is to open up 2,000 acres (809.3 hectares) of new planting areas using idle land to increase agricultural productivity and the income of those involved. We also want to venture into low-carbon agriculture so that it becomes the foundation and direction of the 13th Malaysia Plan.

“And through Intan under the People’s Income Initiative, a total of 12 projects, including 800 acres (323.7 hectares) of land, have been approved within six months since its implementation in February,” she said when appearing as a guest on Bernama TV’s Ruang Bicara programme last night.

Zaiedah also said that through these projects, the focus would be on crops that relied heavily on imports from other countries, even though the country is capable of producing them.

“Our import dependency is still high. In 2021, the import value was RM63.6 billion and this figure increased to RM75.6 billion in 2022. This indicates a growing demand and a change in dietary trends.

“If this issue is not addressed, the country’s food security will be compromised. Therefore, what we aim to achieve through this HGHV initiative is to enhance availability, accessibility, consumption and sustainability of the agriculture industry,” she said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Digital Agriculture and Drone Technology Ecosystem Department head Navin Sinnathamby said the country was in a good position to adopt modern agriculture.

He said that up to December this year, a total of 69 projects focusing on digital-based smart farming involving 500 agropreneurs would be implemented, incorporating automation, mechanisation and digitalisation. — Bernama