KUALA LUMPUR, The government will generate more initiatives and provide relevant incentives for the development of post-harvest technologies in a move to boost production in the agriculture sector, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said special allocations and research and development (R&D) grants would be provided to support these initiatives.
"It is hoped with these initiatives and R&D grants, new technologies and knowledge will be developed to boost agriculture sector production, thus contributing to the food supply for the nation, and the world," he said when launching the five-day 7th International Postharvest Symposium (IPS) 2012 here, today.
The quadrennial symposium, titled "Postharvest for Wealth and Health" and jointly organised by the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (Mardi), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and the International Society for Horticulture Science (ISHS), is hosted by a country in Asia for the first time. A total of 530 representatives from 23 countries are attending the symposium.
Muhyiddin said that through better infrastructure, crop production management techniques and post-harvest technologies, Malaysia had set the target of raising production of agriculture commodities by 40 per cent by 2020.
"Innovation is the key for the Malaysian agricultural transformation programme to make Malaysian agriculture more competitive. Malaysia must continue to seek new platform technologies and knowledge that can effectively speed up this programme," he said.
He also said that with the current advancement in post-harvest handling technology, contribution of horticulture crops to total export had increased.
"Malaysia has experienced the benefit of constantly upgrading and improving methods and mechanisms for post-harvest handling. For example, in 2011, total exports of Malaysia's horticulture crops comprising fresh fruits, vegetables and ornamentals was valued at US$418.6 million (RM1.3 billion), which marked a significant increase of 69.8 per cent from 2006, valued at US$246.6 million (RM764.5 million)," he said.
Muhyiddin said the improvement in post-harvest handling technology, especially on the extension of storage life, has allowed and will certainly promote greater volume of fresh fruits, vegetables and ornamentals to be exported to more distant countries, as well as, non-traditional markets.
He said Malaysia's starfruit was being exported to Europe, papaya to China, pineapple to the Middle East and durian to Australia, and expressed the hope that one day, more Malaysian exotic fruits could be enjoyed elsewhere in the world, with the same freshness and quality.