Agriculture is an essential sector in Malaysia’s economy, contributing 12% to the national GDP and providing employment for 16% of the entire population, while industry provides 37.6% of GDP (occupying 36% of the labor force in 2017), and services provide 53.6% (occupying 53% of the labor force in 2017) (CIA 2020). The country has a total land area of 33.03 million ha, of which as of 2015, 23.1% is agricultural land, 63.6% is forest area, and 13.3% is for other land uses.
Peninsular Malaysia has the largest land area suitable for agriculture, accounting for nearly 48% of the total agricultural land area (Olaniyi et al., 2013). The key industrial crops include oil palm, rubber, cocoa, and tobacco, which mainly serve the export market. Crops that are referred to as “food crops” primarily serve, though not exclusively, the domestic market, mainly comprising paddy, fisheries, fruits, and vegetables.
Other miscellaneous crops include sugarcane, cassava, maize, and sweet potato, which cater to both export and domestic markets. For a long time, Malaysia’s agricultural policy has mainly revolved around industrial crops and, to some extent, food crops (Fatah, 2017).