REDUCING LOSSES: Govt targets 40 per cent rise in productivity by 2020
KUALA LUMPUR: EFFORTS to minimise post-harvest losses of agricultural produce will be intensified so that the sector can contribute more to the economy.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government would generate more initiatives, provide allocations and relevant incentives for the development of post-harvest technology to reduce losses along the food supply chain.
"Items such as fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers -- which are highly perishable and among the most highly-traded agricultural goods -- need to be properly handled to minimise losses, which tend to occur from the time of harvest until consumption," he said.
"The post-harvest losses of these crops in developing countries are approximately 30-40 per cent, or two to three-fold more than losses in developed countries."
He said this at the opening of the 7th International Post-harvest Symposium 2012 (IPS 2012) at Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.
Muhyiddin said through better infrastructure, crop production management techniques and post-harvest technology, Malaysia aims to increase the productivity of agriculture commodities by 40 per cent by the year 2020.
Malaysia's exports of horticulture produce, comprising fruits, vegetables and ornamentals, totalled RM1.3 billion last year, an increase of 69.8 per cent from the RM764.5 million recorded in 2006.
Muhyiddin said improvement in post-harvest handling technology allowed local horticulture products to be exported far and wide, creating various economic and commercial opportunities.
"Malaysian star fruits have been exported to Europe, papayas to China, pineapples to the Middle East and even our famous durians have been exported to Australia."
The IPS 2012, which ends on Friday, brings together the best scientists and experts in the agricultural development sector from all over the world.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar told a news conference later that the ministry was mulling the introduction of a new insurance scheme for farmers in the country.
"The insurance scheme will be beneficial, especially when farmers lose their crops to downpours and other natural catastrophes," he said.
He, however, added studies were currently being carried out to ensure its feasibility and that it would not overlap with existing aid or schemes.