Writer: Rojana Manowalailao, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems
One day at MAHA 2016 was not enough, I bluntly admitted.
As part of the 8th Steering Committee Meeting of the ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS) project, 14 ASEAN representatives from Ministries of Agriculture of eight countries gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 7 – 8 December 2016 to update and agree on future activities to complete the project by the end of 2017. The eight countries were Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
After the first day full of productive discussion and exchange, the participants including ASEAN SAS team took a study visit on the second day to MAHA (Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism) 2016, the largest and comprehensive showground in Malaysia and Asia which covered a 100 hectare site and was attended by 3.5 million visitors this year.
It was one of the most exciting, fun and informative day in my life and my deep sincere appreciation to Mr. Halimi Mahmud, Director of Paddy, Industrial Crops and Floriculture Division, Department of Agriculture of Malaysia for hosting this memorable two-day event.
The MAHA event was held every other year to promote agriculture and agro-based industries, showcasing all the different components of this fast-growing industry in Malaysia. The 2016 edition started from 1-11 December and was situated at Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang in Selangor about 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.
This year’s theme was Our Food Our Future highlighting the issue of food security and sovereignty.
Among the many highlights of MAHA 2016 was a concerted focus on agrotourism, agro trade and agro lifestyle, along with the latest innovations and technological advancements. Apart from local entrepreneurs and traders, MAHA 2016 also attracted the interest of companies from almost 20 countries.
MAHA 2014 had 3.5 million visitors and total sales of 152 million ringgits, or about 31 million EURO.
Malaysia is expected to have a population of about 50 million in 2015.
“Food sovereignty is our right as a country to define and control our own food and agricultural systems, including protecting and regulating domestic agricultural production and trade, in order to achieve sustainable development objectives. It is vital for us to grow enough food to feed our people and reduce the nation’s dependence on food imports. We need to ensure that all Malaysians have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, now and in the future,” Minister of Agriculture & Agro-based Industry, Malaysia YB Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek stated in the MAHA 2016 official website.