The Impact of COVID-19: Malaysia’s Emergency Mitigation Measures on Ten High-Value Crops

COVID-19 is impacting crop yields and agricultural supply. Malaysia faces annual challenges with the value chain and supply chain of fruits and vegetables, burdening consumers and agricultural producers as produce prices fluctuate and surplus agricultural products can spoil. These difficulties were exacerbated during the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia. As we move into the endemic stage, the annual problems suggest that mitigation measures need to be implemented immediately. An oversupply of fruits and vegetables leads to falling prices and a shortage of agricultural products leads to skyrocketing prices.

Therefore, a framework of 10 high-value crops can be illustrated in Figure 1, to facilitate the policymaking process of the sector. The industry can use this framework and its resources to optimize its productivity. General aim of this study is to assess the issues faced by the agricultural producers and the three specific objectives are; 1) To identify the problems face by 10 high-value crop producer relating to value and supply chain of the crops 2) Develop emergency mitigation policies or guidelines to the relevant authority in Malaysia to complement the National Recovery Plan 3) To improve the living standards and economic wellbeing of rural smallholder farmers by easing the value chain and supply chain for the agricultural producers. These objectives are examined through focus group discussion (FGD), surveys, and in-depth interviews with relevant stakeholders.

This study explores the challenges and provides recommendations to mitigate the production issues of ten high-value crops (HVC), namely orchid, vanilla, fig, strawberry, D197 durian, Bentong ginger, MD2 pineapple, Tanduk banana, Harumanis mango, and Matag coconut. For each crop, two general criteria are considered: value chain and crop supply chain. Five crops were found to be unaffected: fig, MD2 pineapple, Bentong ginger, D197 durian, Matag coconut. Agricultural producers of these crops can overcome adversity by changing their farming practices or converting the fresh produce into downstream products. Five other crops such as vanilla, orchid, strawberry, Tanduk banana, and Harumanis mango have been adversely affected by COVID-19. Among the issues raised are inadequate labour, high cost of pesticides, fertilizers, infrastructure setup and planting supplies, and lack of capital, which affect the value chain and supply chain of the crop. On the other hand, farmers’ intrinsic issues are explored, such as attitudes and passion, knowledge gaps, age factor, and succession.

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