Malaysian food sector is unbalanced, the key to stability might be Denmark, according to “ghost” columnist.
Last year Malaysia’s import food bill stood at a critical 45 billions Malaysian Ringgits, as reported by Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek in the media.
“In the same year, our food export was only RM27bil, so the efforts to reduce the RM18bil deficit is a huge responsibility for the Government,” he said. Fact is that Malaysia is heavily reliant on imports to feed the population, despite ambitions to be more self-sustainable in the near future.
In independent Malaysian media, Aliran, an anonymous Malaysian with self-claimed connections to Denmark suggest Malaysia to study the Danes in order to turnaround the state of the Malaysian food sector and eventually “turn Malaysia into a major food exporter”.
The person is writing under the pseudonym of “Dansk Fødevaresikkerhed” and claims to have thorough knowledge about the food sector in Denmark, which the article reflects that he just might have.
The Danish ecosystem
Now let’s overlook the mystery of the pseudonym and engage with the substance of the article. “Dansk Fødevaresikkerhed” is full of words of praises for the Danish food sector:
“The Danish food industry today is built completely on an ecosystem, and moving along the value chain, incorporating high value-added activities such as integrated farming methods, research and development, innovation, skilled personnel, manufacturing, logistics and marketing and distribution, with the impetus being spearheaded by co-operatives”.
Furthermore it is mentioned how food-producing companies and the Danish farmers have a strong commitment to collaborate in order to achieve succes. The source also points at the “strong emphasis” (…) placed on research and development” as a key for the development and succes of the Danish food sector.
“Synergies with universities ensure that food-related research is carried out into everything from primary production to process technology and from final food products to markets and consumers. The three major universities – the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and the Technical University of Denmark – account for most of food-related research in Denmark”, the article mentions.
“Mutually beneficial partnerships across the cluster have built new knowledge and innovative dominance, which might be the key to the country maintaining its international competitiveness”.
Adopting the Danish model
So how should this so-called Danish ecosystem be replicated in Malaysia? A nation that is almost incomparable. “Dansk Fødevaresikkerhed” offers some ideas.
First off the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) should undergo a rebranding and renaming in order to “undertake a pro-active and pivotal role in the development of the food sector in Malaysia. Parliament should amend the Fama Act to broaden the scope of the agency’s activities and make it the focal agency responsible for the development of country’s food eco-system”.
Then it’s just about to study, learn and implement. All relevant actors in the sector, such as Fama, ministries, relevant universities and companies etc. “should visit Denmark to undertake a comprehensive study of its food industry”. That is the appeal.
“Fama can assist in the implementation of the Danish model and emphasise the development of co-operatives, from which major food companies can tap into their expertise and synergise their operations. Only then will Malaysia be in a position to modernise its food industry and become internationally competitive”, it’s written.
“The government should engage Danish specialists in the respective fields as consultants to undertake a comprehensive study of the food industry in Malaysia and put forward proposals and recommendations to not only achieve food self-sufficiency in the country but also turn Malaysia into a major food exporter”.
ScandAsia has contacted Fama to get a comment on the article but are still pending for a reply.