Malaysia’s Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Johari Baharum has spoken out against government agriculture subsidies, suggesting farmers were capable of competing by themselves. Agriculture, he said, was a multimillion dollar sector and many in the industry had it easy thanks to government incentives. This in turn would produce laziness without a ‘mindset change’.

Speaking at the Aquafair Malaysia 2010 convention, Johari also had some strong words for Malaysia’s Fisheries and Aquaculture industries. Some players were blaming the government for their lack of success, he said, and poor performers could actually be hampering the industry.

More young people needed to become interested and educated in agricultural practices, he said, and skilled ornamental fish farmers in particular had the potential to become ‘big players’.

The Minister’s comments are the latest sign from the government that an era of protectionist policies is drawing to a close, and that its focus would be increasingly on promoting self-reliance and increased competitiveness in Malaysia’s economy. Among other shifts, the government announced in July 2010 it would cut subsidies on staples like fuel and sugar, and is keen to reduce the scope of Malaysia’s economic affirmative action policy.

source & article: Free Malaysia Today and Reuters