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Thursday, 14 September 2017 | MYT 6:04 PM

Malaysia can save billions of ringgit by making own animal feed

ISKANDAR PUTERI: It’s about time Malaysia produced its own animal feed from maize for the livestock industry, which will save billions of ringgit in annual foreign exchange, Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

For the record, the country spends about RM3.2bil importing some three million tonnes of maize yearly from Argentina currently.

“The figure is just for chicken feed for the poultry industry worth RM11bil, of which RM5bil goes to chicken feed,’’ he told reporters after closing the 39th AGM of Johor Farmers Association in Iskandar Puteri on Thursday.

Ahmad Shabery said Malaysia had already started corn farming to produce maize as animal feed with farms in Johor, Kedah and Terengganu covering about 1,000ha.

He said that the country would need between 300,000 and 400,000ha of land to cultivate corn on large scale farming like what Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines are doing now.

“The three countries are self-sufficient in terms of producing animal feed from maize for their livestock and we could learn a thing or two from them,’’ added Ahmad Shabery.

He said the weakening of the ringgit would force the country to fork out more money to import animal feed and that would cause prices of chicken to go up.

Ahmad Shabery said the country was self-sufficient when it comes producing chicken and eggs for local consumption with Malaysians consuming 1.8 million chickens and 20 million eggs daily.

“There are some many idle land and state-owned land for the large scale corn farming including former paddy fields which could be turned into corn farms,’ he added.

On another issue, Ahmad Shabery said it was cheaper for Malaysia to import RM2bil worth of beef, mostly from India instead of cattle breeding cattle for meat consumption in the country.

However, he said, Malaysia still needed to breed its own cows for korban for Hari Raya Aidiladha as the animals would be slaughtered for sacrificial.

“For this year’s Hari Raya Aidiladha, 31,000 heads of cows were slaughtered of which 18,000 live cows were imported from Thailand and Myanmar,’’ said Ahmad Shabery.

He said Malaysia would need about 50,000 cows a year for Hari Raya Aidiladha in the coming years but and should reduce its dependency on Thailand and Myanmar, as China and Vietnam were also buying cows from the two countries.