PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s food import bill is a whopping RM50 billion every year. For a country that has vast arable land, it is a wasted opportunity that it not to be used for food production.

The Covid-19 pandemic poses greater problems as the lockdown imposed by several countries has greatly affected the global supply chain.

India, from which we buy a lot of onions from, is in lockdown and this has affected the supply of one of Malaysia’s most important commodities. Wheat import from Australia is also affected due to the lockdown.

But what is most alarming is the Mekong river problem affecting countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, two of our most important food exporters.

The proliferation of dams along the Mekong river, coupled with climate change, has drastically increased the pollution of salt water into the Mekong, destroying aquaculture and agriculture production, especially rice in these countries.

As a result, these countries could not serve export capacity and are forced to look inwards to feed the local population. For this reason, Vietnam has cancelled its export contracts.

The implication for Malaysia is serious. For a country who depends largely on commodity imports, this is a dire situation.

“In these difficult times, we need to turn back to our local producers to give them the support that they need to increase production. Multinational food companies will not weather our storm, but our local producers can,” International Strategy Institute (ISI) Chairman Cheah Chyuan Yong said today.

“For this reason, ISI has launched the food project. is the ‘yellow pages’ for all local basic food producers in the country to help them sell their produce to people all over the country.

“It includes basic food such as meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, cooking ingredients and dried items. Local producers can also list the produce themselves on Malaysians can search for all kinds of basic food in various towns and regions of the country. They can contact these producers and deal with them directly.”

During the pandemic, these producers, who used to sell to big supermarkets, find it difficult to sell their products, and end up throwing the food away, such as the Cameron Highland farmers.

By informing Malaysians about local sources of food, are giving local producers a critical bloodline to survive and continue producing more. This helps incentivise local food production and hopefully help our country survive this looming food crisis.

To check out the basic food items available in Malaysia, go to