The Malaysian government is encouraging private firms and government-owned companies such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd to invest in large scale fruit and vegetable farming to reduce the nation’s food import bill, which has almost touched RM60 billion (€13 bln).
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that at this time, major firms were only focusing on large scale oil palm and rubber plantations, whose commodity prices were exposed to market uncertainties. He said fruit and vegetable farming had lots of revenue potential.
“Today, I visited the Green Tech Farm that uses modern technology to produce various types of vegetables, such as tomato, egg plant, cucumber and chili, which are then exported to Russia with lucrative returns,” he told Malaysian reporters.
The 35ha farm operated by Azersun Holdings utilises state-of-the-art technology in the production of organic vegetables.
Asked if the government would encourage Khazanah to invest in the vegetable farming sector, and not just focus on investments abroad, Mahathir said there would be no objections if Khazanah was keen. “Khazanah can (invest) if there is a need, but it’s not just the government, the private sector needs to get involved as well. Khazanah shifted their focus (to investments abroad) because the domestic (investment) climate was not encouraging, and the previous leadership was not encouraging it as well,” he said.
He said private firms were encouraged to get involved as large amounts of investments were needed if the Green Tech Farm model was to be emulated. On his disappointment with graduates in the agricultural field who only wanted to be employed in the public service, Mahathir said such attitudes must change.