SINGAPORE (Nov 18): Food security, says the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs.

So when Malaysia, which derived 8.2% of its GDP from agriculture in 2017, was ranked 40th in food security among 113 countries tracked by the 2018 Global Food Security Index, while Singapore, whose agricultural sector is negligible by comparison, topped the ranking, the million-dollar question was, how did we get here?

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, for one, says Malaysia has been ignoring the agricultural sector for the longest time. As it happens, this is an area the Council of Eminent Persons chairman has been very vocal about in the media of late. In an email interview with The Edge Malaysia, he assesses the status of food security and agriculture in Malaysia.

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