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Jomo: Revamp agricultural practices to help poor farmers, not rich plantations

Malaysia needs to reform its agriculture practices to ensure food and financial security for poor farmers, renowned economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram said today.

Speaking during the “Economics, Poverty, and Gaps in Malaysia” seminar for MPs and government officials at Parliament, Jomo said the agriculture practices do not favour farmers who grow food crops but big plantations and their cash crops.

“We have a big issue in terms of agriculture. Ninety per cent of land in Malaysia is filled with palm oil and rubber, with a little bit of cocoa [plantation]. Only 10 to 12 per cent is filled with food crops.

“Especially [the problem is] with paddy. We found that the poorest in the country are the paddy farmers, even when the government subsidises about 60 per cent of paddy farming,” he said.

Jomo said even the subsidies do not really work as intended, as the farmers rely on the government to buy their crops at an inflated price than the market’s standard.

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