When Malaysia was hard-hit by Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, Tun Dr. Mahathir, then the nation's PM, took a review of our imports to see ways to trim them down.
The crisis wiped out a big chunk of our foreign reserves, making Malaysia much poorer and vulnerable to high risks in reserve sufficiency. Cutting down imports was one way to save for coffers.
Tun Dr. Mahathir was most astonished to find that agricultural products took up a good percentage of the import components.
I still remember vividly his challenge to the whole nation in reaction to the shocked finding. "Malaysia has plenty of lands. Why do we need to import alarming quantities of agricultural foods? Can we take up the challenge to plant more and import less?" Mahathir called on the nation.
Tun Dr. Mahathir's call was well echoed but very short-lived.
I remember Sibu responded with a frenzy drive for home-gardening with high-profiled publicity in the press. But the zeal died a natural death soon after.
I lamented for the poor follow-through in Mahathir's call.
Now we are facing global crop shortage and spiralling food prices. Take my words, it is not going to be a short-term phenomenon.
It may be time for us to seriously review our agricultural policy to face up to this era of expensive foods!