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40% onion price hike: How will Malaysia cope with an emerging global food crisis?

Hopefully, the politicians will be able to apply the brakes on their political agendas and get the nation back to tackling the food crisis

Food security: A visitor to Balik Pulau, Penang soaks in the glorious vista of a paddy field - EVELYN TANG/ALIRAN

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The latest news is that India has enforced a 40% tax on onions exports. 

Earlier, several rice-producing nations announced a clamp on rice exports. 

Imagine the consequences for Malaysia’s 33 million people who depend on the imports of many of these essential food items. 

Unfortunately, the nation’s focus since 2018 has been on political battles and power struggles. 

Despite a “unity government” coming to power after last November’s general election trying to put the country back on track, we are still entangled in the political woods. 

How will it be possible for the nation to attend to its people’s daily lives when politicians are unable to put nation-building and political stability above their desire for power? 

Many netizens have even raised the alarm about a possible food crisis, as early as at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But many others countered by telling the people not to be “paranoid as the war was too far away and we were okay as we have oil money”. 

Our attempt to focus on a food crisis did not get as much traction as the political feuds did. 

Many are still struggling to put food on the table. 

The white flags at the height of the Covid lockdowns have obviously not taught us – especially the politicians – a lesson. 

Hopefully, these politicians will be able to apply the brakes on their political agendas and get the nation back to tackling the food crisis.

Or … should we continue to live on political promises that all will be well? 

READ MORE:  Heightened food insecurity in wake of Fukushima water release

The world could face a defining period in 2025. Next year especially will be a most trying, frantic time, as many countries, even developed ones, could sink into recession. 

We have lost precious time since 2018. The disgruntled politicians and party members are now helplessly plotting their moves ahead of the next general election in 2027. Or they might even be planning an insidious plot to overthrow the “unity government”.

Indeed, we are in crisis – but does anyone care? 

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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Paul Lim
Paul Lim
28 Aug 2023 12.41am

I agree with first comment but I must say Malaysia has to more out of the mono-culture of Palm oil. Food security and self-suffiency had been abandoned. Europe though it has gone Neo-liberal it had and still do give food security as Number one priority. The greater part of the European budget is dévote to agriculture even if you criticised it. Subsidising is not very Neo-liberal.

In my house, we grow chillies in the Hothouse in the garden. Growing your own food is a common practice on land provided by the state.

27 Aug 2023 3.32pm

In order to solve this problem:-
1. Govt should map out all land that is suitable for perma cultivation and identify what Main crops and live stocks are suitable in such areas, ideally all crops for human and livestock consumptions should be cultivated with 100% self sufficiency.
2. All adults are entitled to an open tender of say 10k sq ft of land for perma culture and also to build their own houses.
3. The govt should then prepare the land such as levelling the ground, dig up canals, build embankments, set up water gates, storage tanks etc and all documentations works.
4. Trainings and Group A.I. robotics, mechanisation marketing and expertise should be provided to help them.
5. This will solve the food & housing problems.

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