ISTANBUL, July 5 — Malaysia seeks to diversify its food import source, including the possibilities of buying wheat flour from Turkiye as the world battles with supply constraints, soaring food prices and inflation.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who arrived here today to begin his four-day official visit, said food security would be one of the key components during his series of meetings with Turkish captains of industries.

He said besides strengthening bilateral relationship with Turkiye, he would take the opportunity to lure more investments from the country, as well as sourcing for food items such as wheat flour.

“One-third of the world’s wheat production are from Ukraine and Russia. But the war between the two countries, as well as India’s decision to reduce export of wheat, have put tremendous pressure on the supply of wheat…But the Malaysian government continues to give subsidies to reduce the burden of the people,” he said.

Turkiye’s annual wheat production is close to 20 million tonnes and the republic is a net exporter of the commodity.

Ismail Sabri was speaking at a luncheon with Keluarga Malaysia residing or studying in the country, including students who took a 23-hour bus journey from Armenia to meet the prime minister.

After the luncheon attended by about 250 people, Ismail Sabri met separately with representatives from nine government-linked companies (GLCs) and private firms from Turkiye.

The Turkish companies at the meetings were OYAK, The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK), Turkish Wealth Fund (TWF), GAMA Enerji A.S (GEAS), Tuyar, EMS MOBIL, FNSS, Istanbul Shipyard, and HAVELSAN.

At the business meetings, Ismail Sabri, who is here at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was accompanied by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Datuk Seri Abdul Latiff Ahmad.

Several Malaysian corporations also attended the session, among them Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Boustead Holdings Bhd, Tenaga Nasional Bhd and SilTerra Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

According to Malaysian officials, one of the main highlights of the meeting was on food supply involving Boustead Holdings and OYAK, Turkiye’s first and largest occupational pension fund. 

OYAK has three main investment areas — financial, equity and real estate. With more than 310 business units and 110 plants operating in six continents, OYAK has a strong presence in key sectors including mining and metallurgy, cement concrete, paper, automotive, logistics, finance, chemicals, food, agriculture, energy, and services.

On March 28, the United Nations World Food Programme warned that the war in Ukraine is creating an agricultural crisis not seen since the World War 2.

Both Ukraine and Russia produce 30 per cent of the world’s supply of wheat and 20 per cent of maize.

In 2020, Malaysia imported RM1.46 billion worth of wheat, becoming the 38th largest importer of wheat in the world, and in the same year, wheat was the 109th most imported product in Malaysia.

According to Malaysia’s Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP), Malaysia imports 80 per cent of wheat from Australia and the rest from the United States, Canada and Ukraine.


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