PBF Called For Agriculture Research To Ensure Food Security

In order to increase the breeding and production of crops and vegetables like rice, cucumber, and chilli, Malaysian businesses are implementing cutting-edge technologies.

PBF Called For Agriculture Research To Ensure Food Security

Deputy Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation (Mosti), Datuk Arthur Joseph Kurup recently emphasised how biotechnology can help Malaysia with its food security issues.

This point of view is shared by Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation, which spearheads Mosti’s biotechnology expansion.

The agency works with organisations to come up with creative answers to problems with food security, such as a lack of food supplies, rising production costs, and rising food prices. Though advances in biotechnology might not be able to address every problem, they can provide workable solutions that can greatly lessen the difficulties.

First off, by lowering input and raw material costs, biotechnology can lower the cost of producing food. Alternative protein sources are being produced locally by businesses from plants and insects, including the larvae of the Black Soldier Fly, which can be used to make animal feed that is high in protein.

With this strategy, food waste is addressed while relying less on pricey imported animal feed like maize. According to Allied Market Research, the global insect feed market is anticipated to reach RM9.7 billion by 2031, with the fly larvae segment expected to have the highest revenue and the fastest compound annual growth rate of 26.5% from 2022 to 2031.

Without a doubt, biotechnology will help to fuel this rapid expansion. In order to increase the breeding and production of crops and vegetables like rice, cucumber, and chilli, Malaysian businesses are implementing cutting-edge technologies.

For instance, tissue culture enables crop production without relying on seed germination time, while molecular breeding enables farmers to identify the best crop varieties without having to wait for the plant to physically grow. With these advancements, farmers can produce crops with desirable traits like high yield and disease resistance while also saving a lot of time, increasing their productivity and profitability.

Utilizing the power of advantageous microbes, local biotechnology companies are also producing biofertilizers and organic composts using palm oil mill waste and agricultural byproducts, increasing crop yields by up to 40%.

Through nitrogen fixation and phosphate and potassium solubilization, these products improve nutrient availability and revitalise soil health. By reducing the need for hazardous chemical fertilisers and pesticides, using biofertilizers and biopesticides can also increase plant resistance to pests and diseases, lessen soil erosion, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, cellular technology advancements have made it possible for businesses to produce alternative proteins like seafood and meat in laboratories without using conventional farming techniques, which reduces water use, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The inaugural conference on cultivated meat, which the deputy minister officiated on March 16 in Kuala Lumpur, was a significant step towards ensuring Malaysia food security.

According to Research and Markets, 60% of meat products sold in stores and restaurants worldwide by 2040 will be produced in bioreactors. The first cultivated meat production facility in Malaysia will be established in Penang by a local biotechnology company in 2024, revolutionising the food industry and providing a different way to feed the expanding population.

Malaysian biotechnology firms are progressing significantly, but more extensive implementation is required to have a significant impact on food security.

The National Biotechnology Policy 2.0 and Mosti’s National Policy on Science, Technology, and Innovation offer a sound framework, but effective implementation by public and private stakeholders is required.

However, user participation is essential for biotechnology to be successful. Tax incentives under the BioNexus Status and awareness campaigns are helpful. Without consumers, biotechnology will only have a theoretical effect on food security.