A continuation of Tackling at the Root of the Malaysian Society – Food Issue (Part 2 of 3) and this article is the last part of the series – “Is our current lifestyle leading us to these problems called water scarcity and food insecurity?” The deeper I dig, the more dirt found under the pile of food security issue in the country.
Image from http://www.rappler.com/
More dirt found!
Country Agriculture Sector: According to 2012 statistics from the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry, the country has low self-sufficiency levels for rice (73.5%), vegetables (53.3%), fruits (60.5%), beef (30.1%), mutton (12.6%) and milk (5.2%). Net imports of food swelled from just under RM11bil in 2009 to almost RM14bil two years later. – Let’s have more thought for food (19 April 2014)
Trending Food Pattern in Malaysia: “While the rest of the world focused on ‘Sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition’ on Oct 16 , World Food Day 2013, Malaysians were besieged by politics and religion.
Food security is the most important issue in the 21st century. The poor and the new poor in this country – the middle class whose purchasing power is shrinking are facing challenges in providing adequate and nutritious food for their families. Increasingly, a food insecurity situation is emerging in this country.
Indigenous communities as well as others who live in remote areas not only face economic barriers such as high costs of food and poor purchasing power, but also challenges such as poor roads and lack of transportation in accessing sufficient food. With the frontier development activities such as logging, large-scale mono-crop plantations and the building of dams have pushed them from a state of food security to a situation of food insecurity due to loss of land, biodiversity and water pollution.
‘Fast Food Nation’, Eric Schlosser reveals fast food culture to the rest of the world is to our detriment creating a lust for fast meaty food. Land and water resources have been taken away to produce food based on livestock products for the fast food industry. Colonization and economic globalization as well have contributed to changing food culture patterns.
Many traditional vegetables and local food items have disappeared together with our wet markets. Corporate agriculture has taken over the production of food from our small farmers and indigenous communities who provided a wide variety of local food and sustained our food security and cultural identity.
CIMB chief Nazir Razak warning Malaysians not to hope for more handouts in Budget 2014 as it’s a form of money politics, provided a welcome relief, albeit temporary, to the poor in the country as the government was facing the daunting task of getting Budget 2014 right, based on the current gearing level, amid uncertain global conditions.” – Give priority to food security in Budget 2014 (23 October 2013)
Consumer Behaviour and Trending Pattern of Food Supply: “Whenever the Government announces an increase in prices or decrease in supply, or even just when there are rumours which may send households to the supermarket to stock up. People hoard food when there seems to be a threat to food supply in any situation.
Being a major food importing country – billions are spent yearly on food imports – we can be too complacent about getting food so easily and cheaply in abundance.
We moved away from our roots and turned towards industrialization instead. Our farms and estates contain mostly foreign workers. Additionally, we also lose out to some of our bigger neighbours in terms of agricultural land mass, such as Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines, which also has more fertile volcanic ash land.
I am alarmed at how vulnerable we are when it comes to what we eat. Especially with a manic obsession on technology, foods are now processed and packaged to a point where the public lacks the knowledge of what goes into them.
In our industry, chemicals and pesticides are of course the norm. Apart from quicker and controlled production, this is also fed by people expecting pretty looking and unblemished ‘fresh’ vegetables displayed in supermarkets, which preferably would last for a long time.
There are unscrupulous businessmen who take advantage of the label ‘Organic’ by charging high prices despite there exist certification bodies, but there is still much mystery and cloudiness obscuring the actual criteria for qualifying an organic product. – Agriculture that can provide food security and quality (8 May 2013)
Clearly this matter is more than meets the eye as it not only involves the society but also the critical role of the government and the fundamental structure of the country. Perhaps we need to take baby steps for such a colossal matter.
We can start with changing our mindset to a healthy perspective and try finding ways in creating self sustainable homes in order to survive the future.
It is pertinent to observe how other countries handle such scenarios. We need to watch and learn from others who have the practical knowledge. Remember to put on a thinking cap while watching the videos but the gist is to try understanding the concepts. The video below will explains the concepts and its benefits.
Three, refocusing the idea of sustainable living which includes growing our own food at the outdoor/indoor edible garden and utilizing the rain water harvesting method for our daily house chores.
Can we adopt the lifestyle of sustainable living in our Malaysians homes?
Can we make the fullest use of the nature without totally relying on the city water supply by using the technique called ‘rain water harvesting‘?
Last but not least, perhaps understanding what is healthy living, changing our lifestyle and the way we perceive our livelihood.
The concept of a healthy lifestyle is more than just engaging in healthy diets and exercises. It takes a whole shebang involving the effort and healthy choices of a community and the government.
Right now, everything in Malaysia looks messy judging by our chats about our politics, economy and other aspects of the country but the irony is that at the facade we look richer than our forefathers by having more cars on the road, ever expanding city skylines, large-scaled shopping complexes mushrooming everywhere, and the list goes on. But if we scrutinize the quality of our lives, we see haze at higher frequency, traffic jams are getting from bad to worse, our lives are getting more unhealthily complicated and etc.
Come on urbanites, you cannot be playing with gadgets forever, living in the comfort of air conditioning within the four walls and indulging in the perceived luxury of the digital/modern world.
Maybe somebody else will do the job, right?
Isn’t it a self deception game? Please look at it at a bigger picture.
If everyone thinks like this, how will be the condition of a society since every individual is a building block to a community. It is just a matter of time before the scale of demand for food and water becomes greater than the supply, don’t you think? When the prices hike, who is feeling the pinch? Isn’t this happening right now?
Growing our own food and educating water conservation to the next generation is what we need to do since food prices are gradually going upward and fresh water is getting scarce.
Here are some interesting videos on the perception of other countries on what is healthy living.
Going back to our home ground scenario, the answer lies in us, ‘are we willing to shed off our bad habits and change our perspective of healthy living not just at the individual level but as a community? Look around us and learn to appreciate the beauty of diversity.
The freedom of choice is given to us, for every action there is a consequence, so be wise in our choices. The direction of our future is shaped by our actions of today and nothing will change the course of our future until we decide to act correctly right now.