I read with growing concern as to what is happening in the Middle East today. One by one, the people are rising up and calling for regime change, due to oppression, corruption, unemployment and rising prices of daily needs.
While in many ways, we in Malaysia are still somewhat better off, and we can enjoy many things and be able to lead a normal life despite weaknesses and corruption in the leadership, we cannot stay apathetic.
The growing dissent and turmoil in the Middle East is not some far away event that we watch on our TVs, and it is not "not our business". Far from it, the region which holds much of the world oil produce, especially Saudi Arabia, will definitely face more upheaval and with that the whole world is going to be facing the repercussions. When Saudi Arabia falls and its US puppets go down, and I have a strong sense that it could and will, we will be in "deep shit", as the US will surely intervene and war could inflame the whole oil barrel.
Prices will rise even further, making most necessities out of reach of the people. Basic needs like food have led to the downfall of Gaddafi, Mubarak and their Tunisian counterpart. And elsewhere.
Instead of bickering about whose semen was found in whose anus (by both parties, as I have sympathy for neither), our leaders need to buck up on food security. It is the most basic foundation of every nation. We are a fertile nation, yet we can supply only 60-70% of our staple food, rice, and the stockpile is for only 3 monthsfor millions of people.
Our meats, fruits, veggies are also largely imported from overseas. Agriculture has been neglected for rapid development when they both could have gone hand in hand. The National Food Security policy, during the rice supply crisis, aimed to gain 80% self sufficiency in rice by 2010. Has it reached that goal? I don't think so, given the past trends of our policies which are "hangat-hangat taik ayam".
According to MIDA's report: "Malaysia remains a net importer of food. In 20! 08, Mala ysia's food exports amounted to RM17.9 billion, while imports totalled RM28 billion.
"In the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the production of fruits and vegetables is targeted to reach 2.56 million tonnes and 1.13 million tonnes, respectively, by 2010. Vegetables are mainly grown on a small scale for fresh consumption, and are exported mainly toSingapore. The major locations for the cultivation of vegetables are in Johor, Pahang, Kelantanand Perak. In the livestock sub-sector, Malaysia is the third largest producer of poultry meat in theAsia Pacific region. Malaysia is self sufficient in poultry, pork and eggs, but imports about 80% of its beef requirements."
As a net importer of food, we are very vulnerable. This might seem a minor issue, but again, this is an issue that brings down nations and leaders and creates chaos. Which citizen can work or produce if hungry? What more if their children are hungry?
We will be facing a world war or two in coming years, looking at the state of things, and we better be prepared from now. Food prices will definitely skyrocket by oil, war, production and transportation problems.
Prophet Yusuf's rule of thumb for times of adversity has been to prepare for at least 7 years of bad times. The 7- year food production cycle phenomenon has been studied by UPM, but as usual our universities are not given the due recognition and research and development push. Deep tropical farming to increase livestock production and small scale house-to-house self sufficiency planting, even in planter boxes mush be considered and given the push and incentives.
The issue of Food Security is very important as food supply will be the first to be disrupted by war and oil supply scarcity.
Sometimes the simplest of issues are overlooked and they will be the most dangerous of all if neglected.
Iran has a national food self sufficiency of 96 percent by the way. We must start now. Enough of corruption, self service, bickering, fighting for power from all quarters. Wake u! p!