KUALA TERENGGANU, Oct 4 — The introduction of new alternative crops such as highly nutritious root vegetables is one of the initiatives that can help strengthen the nation’s food security.
Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry (Mafi) secretary-general Datuk Haslina Abdul Hamid said the move could reduce the country’s dependence on a single source of food crop.
At the same time, the transfer of root crop planting knowledge to target groups, especially farmers, can also help the group generate income, she added.
Speaking at the Agrobiodiversity and Agroenvironment Symposium (A-BES) 2022 here today, Haslina said the challenge of strengthening food security in the face of climate change is the core of the climate-smart agriculture research led by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi).
“Food security is one of the main elements supported by Mafi, and through research, Mardi continuously helps the ministry ensure the country’s self-sufficiency level (SSL) for food is always at an optimal level,” she said.
Also present at the symposium was Mardi director-general Datuk Mohamad Zabawi Abdul Ghani.
Haslina said in addition to actively developing rice varieties, Mardi also conducted a study evaluating the effects of climate change, such as high temperatures and haze, on crops like grain corn, pineapple and papaya, as well as a study on insects in the highlands.
“Research and technological innovation planned and carried out at Mardi is to support Mafi and related agencies such as the Environment and Water Ministry in arranging the agricultural sector’s climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Zabawi said A-BES 2022, themed ‘Agrobiodiversity Driving Food Security’, was jointly organised by Mardi, Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (Frim) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA).
He said the symposium focuses on food security in the face of global challenges, agro-environmental management in dealing with climate change, the sustainability of root crops for food security, as well as ecosystem management and biological control for sustainable agriculture.
“It is hoped that this symposium can provide an opportunity for scholars in this country to express their opinions, evaluate the importance of agrobiodiversity and agro-environment and discuss ways to deal with the challenges,” Mohamad Zabawi said.
At the symposium, Mardi also launched the book ‘The Hidden Treasure – Crop Wild Relative‘ which features 25 species of crop wild relative found in this country and are categorised as lesser-known species that live in their unique habitat.