By Norsyafawati b Wahab
PUTRAJAYA : The recent Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism 2016 (MAHA 2016) International Exposition was a runaway success with more than 4 million visitors, and agricultural produce sale and signings worth RM380 million.
The whopping number of visitors and the sales figures that went beyond the initial conservative target of RM200 million is a remarkable achievement for the biennial event since it was first held in 2008.
The achievements indicate that MAHA 2016, the biggest and the longest agricultural and food showcase in the region from Dec 1-11, was an important calendar event for both the public, and the local and foreign buyers.
Apart from that, the MAHA event is also seen as an important nexus in realising the government’s vision of boosting the growth of the agricultural sector through the participation of the younger generation in line with the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) goal.
The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister and the related agencies should be commended for their meticulous planning in ensuring the success of
MAHA 2016 held at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), with the theme ‘Our Food, Our Future’.
MAHA 2016, A PARADIGM SHIFT FOR THE COTTAGE SECTOR
The new approach for the biennial event stood testament to the commitment shown by the Ministry and its Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek in unleashing a new paradigm for the agricultural sector.
From being a cottage industry dominated by villagers it is now moving towards a dynamic industry that protects the nation’s food sovereignty.
This is in line with the efforts to create awareness among the people that they should not take for granted of the country’s food security and that they should have the ability to take control of the food security for the people.
“This is where lies the difference between ‘food security’ and ‘food sovereignty’,” he said.
He provided Singapore as a good example of this. The island nation has no problem when comes to food security as it is a rich nation and is able to import all its food according to the quality and quantity it wanted.
However, for Ahmad Shabery this is not sufficient enough and does not guarantee the nation that it has control over its food supply.
The five underlying proposition of MAHA 2016 were food security and sovereignty, recreation, enhancing knowledge, tourism and the development of the nation’s agricultural industry.
THE ‘AGROTAINMENT’ ASPECT IN MAHA 2016
One of the important contributors to the success of MAHA 2016 is wining the attention of the younger generation through the ‘agrotainment’ element introduced for the first time during the event.
The element of entertainment and joy throughout the 11-day event proved to be a winner for the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries that witnessed a new record in the number of visitors.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that more than 40 percent of the 4 million visitors were youths making MAHA 2016 a family oriented agricultural event.
During the press conference on the final day of MAHA 2016, Ahmad Shabery admitted that the ‘agrotainment’ element also contributed to the success of MAHA 2016.
“This is a paradigm shift in the world of agriculture and agro food that all this while seen as a cottage sector,” he said adding that it was the best idea to lure the younger generation towards agriculture. — BERNAMA