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Fishermen are pictured mending their nets at Bayan Lepas June 16, 2021. The the DOSM said the reduction of fish landing is due to a decrease in the number of vessels operating at sea because of the shortage in foreign labour. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Fishermen are pictured mending their nets at Bayan Lepas June 16, 2021. The the DOSM said the reduction of fish landing is due to a decrease in the number of vessels operating at sea because of the shortage in foreign labour. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — The Covid-19 pandemic indirectly caused Malaysia to produce less food in 2020 and be less self-sufficient for certain food items, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) said.

In its latest report on Malaysia’s consumption levels and self-sufficiency levels of 45 selected agricultural products, the DOSM noted that the Covid-19 pandemic that struck the country since 2020 had indirectly affected Malaysia’s agricultural sector such as in terms of supply and demand for food products.

For example, Malaysia’s production levels for 23 agricultural items declined in 2020, as compared to 21 items in 2019.

“Covid-19 pandemic affected farmers to reduce the size of farms and turn to other varieties of crops.

“As for fisheries, the reduction of fish landing is due to a decrease in the number of vessels operating at sea because of the shortage in foreign labour.

“However, the decline of livestock production was due to the decrease of demand impacted by prolonged Movement Control Order period,” the DOSM wrote in its report titled “Supply & Utilization Accounts Selected Agricultural Commodities 2016-2020”.

Malay Mail’s check of the report showed that food items that recorded a decline in production levels in 2020 were banana, watermelon, rambutan, mangosteen, langsat, mango, mustard greens, cucumber, spinach, lady’s fingers, long bean, sweet potato, cassava, lime, poultry meat, pork, beef, mutton, tuna, cuttlefish, tilapia, torpedo scad (ikan cencaru), crab. 

Fewer items with over 100pc Self-Sufficiency Ratio

Similarly, Covid-19 affected the number of food items for which Malaysia had a self-sufficiency ratio (SSR) of more than 100 per cent, with only 19 such items in 2020 as compared to 25 items in 2019.

“This was due to the implementation of Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb Covid-19 pandemic whereby only essential services were allowed to operate with restricted working hours and minimum number of employees which affected the production,” DOSM said when explaining the decrease in the number of locally produced food that Malaysia could fully supply for locals.

Items with a self-sufficiency ratio of more than 100 per cent means that Malaysia’s production or supply is sufficient to meet local demand.

For food items, the higher the self-sufficiency ratio, the more capable a country is of meeting its own local demand and the less reliant it is on food imported from other countries.

The 19 food items that Malaysia produced in excess of local needs in 2020 have a SSR figure in the range of 100.1 per cent (banana) to 157.7 per cent (sugarcane).

The other items among the 19 are shrimp, lady’s finger, pineapple, durian, sweet corn, long bean, tuna, jackfruit, spinach, cucumber, brinjal, chicken egg or duck egg, salad, starfruit, tomato, watermelon and papaya.

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