Sunday, September 27, 2009

Felda Will Build National Food Warehouse: An Idea or A Dream?

Felda Will Build National Food Warehouse: An Idea or A Dream?

The Federal land Development Authority (Felda) will set up a National Food Warehouse. It was announced by Felda Chairman, Tan Sri Dr Mohd Yusof Noor. This is a second time I heard he made an "out of box" idea".

The first time about his idea was 15 years ago when Dr Mohd Yusof Noor was Menteri Besar Terengganu.He announced that Terengganu will build a LRT system after the same transport system was introduced in Klang Valley. People laugh about the idea, and it was stopped there!

According to the Felda Chairman, Felda will come up with a blueprint for the setting up of a national food warehouse in the next two months. The blueprint would include identifying the types of crops as well as methods of marketing the produce.

To implement the idea, a National Food Warehouse unit had been set up to help Felda realise the government's aspiration for the agency to earn revenue from other sources.

The unit will comprise a team of professionals and experts from Felda as well as those outside the agency. The blueprint will spell out plans for the next 15 years. The warehouse would require a RM750 million investment which it woild store vegetables, beef and fish products.

Let we discuss this brilliant idea....

The basic idea related to setting up a national food warehouse is producing and marketing of agricultural products. This is clearly stated in the out of date blueprint National Agriculture Policy.

Ministry of Agriculture has to change its name from Ministry of Agriculture to Ministry of Agriculture and Agrobased Industry because of challenges it faces when deal with "agriculture". Even, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia has changed its name to Universiti Putra Malaysia which was a wrong decision.

Ministry of Agriculture has introduced many initiatives to promote agriculture where it has a vision that by 2010 Malaysia will become a major food producer and net exporter of food in the world. This policy was introduced by Datuk Dr Nawawi when he was a minister of agriculture.

He was a good minister due to he was a business man before joining the goverment. He had tried hard to transform malaysian agriculture from "agriculture for the poor" to the "agriculture is a business". But his action plans were almost failed because he had to deal with the PTD officers who did not know anything about agriculture business except administering the office.

When Tan Sri Mahyuiddin took over the post of Minister of Agriculture, he has introduced many action plans to implement the Dr Nawawi's ideas. This include using a well known local consultant to promote Malaysia as a hub for aquaculure centre.

Government had launched an aquaculture pilot project in Tasik Kenyir Terengganu a few year ago. It was a brilliant idea due to it was a business driven in nature. But, today the project was failed. As Dr Nawawi faced, Tan Sri Mahyuddin faced many challenges with the PTD officers who come to the office to "makan gaji" not has a "business man attitude" to make agricuture is a business.

Other major initiative by the goverment is through FAMA by establishing TEMANs (a terminal for food warehouse in selected areas), but the projects were also failed.

And if we believe in past history of Malaysian agriculture, the National Food Warehouse sure will fail, except that there is "an abnormal action plan and out of box idea" comes from the Prime Minister Datuk Najib. I look he is a brilliant and hard working minister after Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

The main problem with the Malaysian agriculture is the political influences on agriculture and land matters. Both matters are state affairs and not a federal matter. The federal government can't do anything with the land matters eventhough the states are governed with the same political parties. For example, during the Barisan Nasional time, many paddy lands in Kedah, Perlis and Malacca were converted to housing projects even though the Federal Government had been trying to maintain paddy farms and increase the productivity of the paddy yield to meet at least 60% self-sufficientcy level for the nation.

With the different political backdrop in many states today, agriculture development in Malaysia is affected and could not be coordinated anymore. I don't thinks the states which are controlled by different political parties have the common understanding with the federal government when it comes to economic development agenda. Do you believe in me?

Believe me...Malaysian agriculture include food production policy is under uncertainty....