KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--When food producers, including farmers and fisherfolk, have to march to the gates of Parliament to plead to the government to halt actions that jeopardise food production, it clearly signals that our leaders and the relevant ministries have failed in their vocation.
It is unthinkable. In fact, the many promises of the unelected Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration and his championing of a “keluarga Malaysia” (Malaysian family) ring hollow.
How could a government pay no heed to a growing concern – the food supply chain and food crisis that is already forcing the people to struggle to put decent meals on the table?
The plea by the farmers and fisherfolk highlights how, despite having approached the authorities in the past, their calls for comprehensive and sustainable policies have not yet been answered.
Rice subsidies are not reaching some farmers.
Cattle and goat farmers are being mercilessly evicted by mega-plantation operators, depriving the helpless small-scale farmers of grazing areas for their livestock.
Vegetable farmers, who are only taking up a mere 4% of the national agricultural land, with many of these farming families – growing vegetables on unused government land since before World War Two – facing eviction right in the middle of a global food crisis.
Even as farmers and fisherfolk plead to help the nation curb rising crop and livestock prices, we witness the rape and plunder of mountains and forests in the name of big game economies-of-scale plantation.
Mind you, we have not even seen justice delivered in the case of the thousands of acres of forest land cleared by mega-plantation and business operators to plant the lawfully unapproved hybrid varieties of the Musang King durians. These clearings contributed to the recent floods that seriously affected families and homes in Kedah.
What is wrong with our leaders? Why must they wait for farmers and fisherfolk to beg on their knees to do what they are doing for the good of the nation and its people in these times of crises?
Cultivating idle land is deemed unlawful. Letting cattle and goats graze in land coveted by plantations owned by mega-operators is trespassing.
But bulldozing prime forest land and making way for big-time planters gets all the necessary support from various agencies, including the infamous ‘tutup satu mata’ (close one eye) culture.
The prime minister must account for these failures. Stop killing the geese for the golden eggs.