Sunday, July 3, 2022



AN INTERESTING REPORT on the climate crisis turns up the heat on Malaysia’s food security as written by Dina Murad are relevant to share. A local media NST in Sunday Star reported on Sunday, 17 Apr 2022 for all readers in "Anim Agriculture Technology' blog for me to rewrite the report. The report stated that last December, 2021, Malaysia witnessed a phenomenon that is supposed to only happen once in 100 years in which some parts of the country received one month’s average rainfall all in just one day, an incident that led to massive floods. Local were also told that the nine years spanning 2013-2021 were all listed among the 10 hottest years ever recorded. In recent times, “rare” extreme weather events have become increasingly regular in Malaysia that indicating the troubling state of the climate crisis. This was underscored by the second instalment of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) published in February 2022 in which warned that “nowhere on Earth would escape the dire impacts from the rising temperatures and increasingly extreme weather that was including heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels. Earlier IPCC reports had already identified South-East Asia as among the world’s most at-risk regions for extreme climate events. The third instalment of the IPCC’s AR6 also released on April 4, 2022 highlighted that the forecasted global temperatures are still rising with the window of opportunity to prevent the worst impacts of extreme climate change rapidly closing. According to the report an urgent climate action needs to be taken to keep global temperatures from rising 1.5°C beyond the pre-industrial average that was including the rapid transformation of all sectors of the global economy from energy and transport to buildings and food.

In Malaysia reported that the growing frequency of many unpredictable and extreme weather has directly affected the agricultural sector and its painting a potentially distressing future for the country’s long-term food security. Malaysia currently ranks 39th out of 113 countries in the Global Food Security Index that was second after Singapore in South-East Asia. We produce about 60%-70% of total rice demand in Malaysia and relying on imports to fulfil the remaining gap. With population growth currently the demand for food in the country is expected to increase by 70% to 100% by 2050. As in October 2020 the Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee said Malaysia’s food security has been affected by the increase in the average annual rainfall and frequency of dry and hot weather over the past few decades; more than 40,000ha of padi fields nationwide were destroyed by floodwaters between 2017 and 2021. Major environmental crises have also caused significant damage to the food producing industry. For example reported that Malaysia’s agriculture and agro-based industry suffered a RM299mil loss in the aftermath of the 2014/15 floods. Therefore Malaysia must prepare for worst-case scenarios that may take place in the future as a possibility of consequence of global warming. According to the Asean State of Climate Change Report 2021, a 2°C increase in temperature could cause a decline of rice yields by one tonne per hectare. As a result, rice yields in Malaysia could face a projected decline in the range of -5.9% to -30.9% by 2050 in various parts of the country.

In response to the threat of food insecurity brought about by climate change therefore the government announced the National Food Security Policy Action Plan 2021-2025 that was to ensure the sustainability of the country’s food supply at all times, especially in the face of unexpected situations. It will focus on all four dimensions of food security in line with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for availability, access, consumption and stability and sustainability. Climate change affects the growth of agriculture crops and recent erratic weather patterns such as extreme floods and occurrence of heatwaves that was having a direct impact on Malaysia’s ability to produce food. As claimed by Dr Wan Fazilah from Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) department of agricultural technology has said that changes in climate factors such as temperature, sun radiation, wind, rainfall and humidity will affect plants’ evapotranspiration (evaporation and transpiration of water from the plant occurred into the atmosphere). The needing to survive with the plants have to adapt with the erratic climate. This adaptation may interrupt the plant’s growth in which in some cases may reduce yield because of plant stress. There must be a unified effort to encourage the development of more resilient crops. She also warns that if no action is taken in case of Malaysia may face insufficient food supply in the long term and will need to put more reliance on imported agricultural products. To avoid such an eventuality therefore there must be a unified effort to encourage the development of more resilient crops. The government especially for the agriculture authorities, non-government bodies as well as research universities must focus on finding new ways of either managing or developing new plant varieties that can adapt to climate change. The findings from such research should be tested and applied to all farm levels from small to large-scale. Climate prediction models can be used to help farmers plan their future planting management. Such predictions have the potential to empower authorities to make their own assessments of the vulnerability of agriculture production to climate change.

In other comments despite advances in biotechnology that the climate is still a key factor in determining agricultural productivity as claimed by UPM agricultural economist Prof Datuk Dr M. Nasir Shamsudin. He said that of all economic sectors, the climate change has the most significant impact on food production because of its broad geographic dispersion and obvious close dependence on climate and environmental factors. Malaysian geography also plays an important role in the severity of consequences from climate change. Agriculture and climate are mutually interdependent. Although climate change affects agriculture, agriculture also affects climate. According to the IPCC report stated that South-East Asia is among the world’s most at-risk regions as we face rising sea levels, heat waves, droughts and potential of increasingly intense rainstorms. Prof Nasir explains that studies conducted around the world have consistently shown that overall production in countries located in the middle and high latitudes are likely to benefit in the near term (approximately until mid-century), while production systems in the low latitudes are likely to decline. This has implications for world food security, as most developing countries, including Malaysia, are located in lower latitude regions.  There also exists potential for greater increases in water stress for crops under a warming climate, further increasing the vulnerability of agricultural produce in developing countries. For many developing countries also have fewer resources to develop appropriate measures to counter negative impacts compared with richer nations. If the effects of climate change are not abated, agricultural production in the middle and high latitudes is also likely to decline in the long term, approximately by the end of the 21st century. This would be primarily due to the detrimental effects of heat and water stress on crop growth as temperatures rise.

Reported that in 2020, Malaysia imported RM55.5 billion worth of food products compared with RM33.8bil in exports. Since Malaysia is a food deficit country the need of a policy or the framework that deals with the effects of climate change on food production is crucial. There are some possible areas in the framework include adaptation creation of strategies to build resilience into production systems and mitigation strategies to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions. Others include for research and development strategies to enhance food production capacity to respond to climate change. The need of awareness and communication strategies to inform decision-making by many of agricultural producers. There are response to the possibility threat of food insecurity brought about by climate change in which the government announced the National Food Security Policy Action Plan 2021-2025.  When many look into how we can limit the negative impacts of climate change on our food production therefore it must acknowledge that the way local grow food also contributes to the climate crisis. Agriculture and climate are mutually interdependent. Although climate change affects agriculture, agriculture also affects climate. The interactions involve temperature effects, water supply and demand, and fluxes of carbon through the processes of photosynthesis and respiration. Emissions from agricultural sources are believed to account for some 15% of today’s human-related greenhouse gas emissions. In recent studies have shown that improved agriculture practices can help for significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by increasing carbon sequestration. Being able to reduce carbon emissions from the agriculture sector depends largely on environmentally-friendly land use and management practices for both of which need strong political and public will. Thanks...
Rewrite by,
M Anem,
(June 2022)

1 comment:

  1. Hi M Anem, I am a property consultant who recently discovered the dire importance of growing corn in our country, most informatively by reading your blog. I have large clients who are in property development (uncertain outlook) that I'll like to introduce growing corn to them as a business. Could we collaborate in some ways? Please contact me. James Chou, Ipoh 012 5100783