By: Noor Eszereen Juferi & Nur Syamila Kamarul Arefin
Insufficient food supply has recently become a significant issue globally. Although Malaysia is a country rich in land and crops, it is still dependent on imported food.
The agricultural sector is perceived negatively and viewed as less prestigious by society. The youth lack interest in working in the agricultural sector; hence, it is now monopolised by foreign workers.
Current environmental factors may also influence the youth, especially SPM school leavers, to choose a career as influencers. They prefer to opt for the gig economy, a current trend that allows them to work independently and earn immediate income.
Senior Lecturer, Department of Land Management, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Dr. Daljit Singh A/L Karam Singh, said that it was important for the youth to be involved in agriculture to ensure the sustainability of the food supply for future generations.
He said, "Developed countries such as the United States, Europe, Japan, and Thailand continue to maintain the importance of agriculture to ensure the sustainability of sufficient food supply, and there is a need for the national agriculture to be taken seriously to prosper career prospects in the field”.
He voiced concern that the agricultural sector would be affected if the country continuously depends on foreign workers and veteran farmers, and in the absence of the younger generation to take over.
"We also do not want our currency flowing out of the country, impacting our national economy negatively. Besides, this sector offers prospective careers with long-term benefits”, he said.
Dr. Daljit Singh believes that to attract their interest in this field, the youth should be given exposure and an overview of careers in the field of agriculture early at the school level.
"Our country has agencies related to agriculture, forestry, and plantations, and UPM is one of the higher education institutions that offer various agricultural programmes and play a role in introducing study programmes and producing agricultural graduates that spearhead the sector," he said.
Shu Goo Long, a Master of Agriculture student from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), and a modern farmer, shared that parents should expose their children to agriculture earlier in life to ensure the security of agricultural yields in the future.
Shu Goo Long is currently cultivating a 0.5-hectare of shared strawberry plantation. He has been trained since age 11 to help his father with the vegetables as early as 5 am and return home at 4 pm.
"I am interested in agriculture as my father provides for the family as a farmer. Looking at my father as a farmer helped me to choose a career in this sector, and I utilise the expertise gained at the university.” He added that as food is the primary source of life, as a young person, he is determined to help farmers find solutions through research to improve the country's agricultural yields in the future.
"As a young farmer, I aspire to be a scientist who is an expert in agriculture and a successful entrepreneur by using available technology to facilitate work in the farms," he said.
He said many young people need to be made aware that a modern farmer can earn a stable income and that young people in the digital age can contribute to the field by utilising applications in technology.
"Courses that you take at the university can be applied in agriculture, and it is hoped this sector become the top choice among youth in Malaysia," he said. – UPM
Date of Input: 28/06/2023 | Updated: 28/06/2023 | mohdsyafiq
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