Friday, April 25, 2008

Malaysian Agrifood Corporation

This morning I once again met Mr. Chan and we went to meet with the Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Agrifood Corporation, Azizi Meor Ngah. Malaysian Agrifood Corporation Berhad (MAFC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Berhad that was established in May 2006 to drive Malaysia’s food supply chain management and distribution system towards global standards in safety, quality and sustainability. I found Azizi Meor Ngah to be very personable. We had a very good discussion about their quest to improve Malaysian food production and empower small producers. He was very interested in American agriculture and in particular how our farmers’ cooperatives work. He also asked several questions regarding our government’s influence on agriculture. I told him our industry is much more based on free market principles.

Next Mr. Chan and I were joined by Pack Huang who has been coordinating my schedule while I am in Malaysia. We drove quite a distance to the other side of the mountains that run down the Malaysian peninsula to an area that the state government has opened up specifically for food production. Farmers and companies can apply to lease a portion of this land. MAFC has 100 acres here on which they have established a Papaya farm. I was unaware that papaya grew so fast. Plants that were planted in March started producing fruit in November. The papaya that they have at this location is a new variety that has been breed to have all of the best characteristics. The plants will produce for about 30 months before they get too tall for harvest and are replanted. This farm is a demonstration farm using all of the best management practices and it is hoped that the small, surrounding farmers will learn from this operation and improve their operation thus building a viable industry for export. Even now the young plants are producing two metric tons a week and one ton is being exported to England. In the future they will also rotate production with a new variety of pineapple. We tried some of the papaya and it was delicious.

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