KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — Despite the decline in its relative contribution to the Malaysian economy and trade over the years, the agriculture sector remains significant, especially as a major supplier of food as well as raw materials for resource-based industries, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia.
Chief statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin said Malaysia’s trade for this sector ranked second in 2020 with a share of 6.8 per cent, surpassing mining products, as reported by the Malaysia Trade Statistics Review (MTSR) 2021.
“(Due to the sector’s significance) efforts in the field of research need to be increased to develop sustainable technology to improve the production and quality of agro-based products, thereby meeting the needs of the people and world market demand,” he said in a statement today.
Commenting on the report, Mohd Uzir said MTSR 2021 synthesised trade performance on selected agricultural products, namely palm oil, natural rubber, seafood, and rice as well as other indicators such as investment, employment, and production.
“Agriculture was once the mainstay of the Malaysia economy on the back of rubber commodity, but in the 1980s, manufacturing was emerging as a leading sector, which then followed by the rise of service-based economy in the 1990s.
“The contribution of agricultural products to Malaysia’s total trade in 1990 was 13.7 per cent, declining to 6.8 per cent in 2020,” he said.
According to Mohd Uzir, palm oil has dominated Malaysia’s trade for the agriculture sector since 1990. In 2020, it has contributed 25.8 per cent and 34.3 per cent, respectively to world palm oil production and exports.
He said Malaysia used to be the world’s top natural rubber producer in the 1930s; however, in 2020 Malaysia’s natural rubber exports were only RM3.3 billion, or 0.3 per cent of total exports.
“(Nonetheless,) the country has benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic as it appeared to be the world’s leading producer of rubber gloves in 2020 with exports amounting to RM35.9 billion, increasing 104.5 per cent year-on-year,” he added.