Farmers losing out in free trade mart

New Straits Times (Malaysia)

Farmers losing out in free trade mart

12 Sep 2006

GEORGE TOWN : Some farmers are still not complying with international requirements and are losing out in the liberalised free trade market.

The local big players had started to adapt to the healthy agro-environment approaches, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shariff Omar.

However, the independent and smallholder farmers are still lagging behind.

As such, the government’s plan to turn the country into a net food exporter by 2010 would be jeopardised, he said.

Foreign food products are making their way into the country under the Free Trade Agreements and market liberalisation, while Malaysian products are struggling to penetrate foreign markets.

He said most of the foreign markets were demanding that agriculture products be free from pesticides, and that the use of chemical substances be reduced.

"We must also create awareness among local farmers of the importance of organic farming," he said after opening the two-day National Conference on Agro-environment here yesterday.