Countries / Territories

Country Profile Malaysia



    Situated in Southeast Asia, Malaysia, with an area of 329,750 km2, consists of two non-contiguous areas: Peninsular Malaysia (formerly West Malaysia), on the Asian mainland, and the states of Sarawak and Sabah, known together as East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Peninsular Malaysia, protruding southward from the mainland of Asia, comprises an area of 131,587 km2. It is bordered on the North  by Thailand, on the East by the South China Sea, on the South by the Strait of Johore, and on the West by the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea. The climate of Peninsular Malaysia is equatorial, characterized by fairly high but uniform temperatures (ranging from 23° to 31°C throughout the year), high humidity, and copious rainfall (averaging about 250 cm/100 in annually). 

    Agricultural Sector

    The agricultural sector in Malaysia accounts for  about 8.4% of the GDP and employs 14.5% of the total labour force (CIA, 2007). Malaysian agricultural production consists of tree crops (mainly for export), rice and livestock (mainly for domestic consumption), and fruits and vegetables (both export and domestic consumption). Main export crops include oil palm, rubber, cocoa, pineapple and pepper and cover over 75% of cultivated land. The government is encouraging a shift of production to higher value crops. A minimum area will remain under paddy because of its strategic importance. The domestic rice self sufficiency production target is set at 65 percent (UNEP/UNCTAD, 2006). The land use is divided as follows: arable land 5.46%, permanent crops 17.54%, other 77% (FAOSTAT, 2005-06).

    Brief overview of organic farming

    According to IFOAM & FiBL (2003), there are 600 hectares of land under organic management, with a share of total agricultural land of 0.01%. In 2001, the Department of Agriculture (DoA) reported there were 27 organic producers in the country with a total area of 131 hectares, a five fold increase in the number of organic initiatives listed in an earlier NGO country report on sustainable agriculture in 1996. Domestic production is largely limited to vegetables and fruit with possibly one organic poultry operator in East Malaysia. Whilst growing, total estimated average is still statistically insignificant (UNEP/UNCTAD, 2006). The National Agriculture Policy (NAP3) recognized that organic agriculture can offer export opportunities in the organic niche market, particularly for fruit and vegetables. The government encourages small-scale producers to venture into organic farming as part of the strategy to raise producers' income, overcome problems of chemical residues in food production, protect the environment, reduce food imports as well as enhance the country's export of high quality safe food (DoA). Under the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010), the government is targeting the organic farming industry to be worth RM800 million in 5 years' time. The Ministry of Agriculture plans to have 20,000 hectares under organic farming methods by year 2010, increasing local production by 4,000 hectares per year. Organic consumption is expected to grow by 20 % per annum (DoA).

    Brief overview of key organic products

    Most organic production is sold domestically with some being exported to Singapore. Sales channels include dedicated organic/health food shops and supermarket chains. So far, there is no reliable market statistics available. The main certified organic products from Malaysia are vegetables, fruit and rice.

    The network

    The first of several efforts to form a national network was the Malaysian Organic Farm Network (MOFAN) initiative in 1990 but it is currently not active. In 2001 Organic Alliance Malaysia (OAM) was founded as a membership based private sector association to fill the gap. It has currently over 30 members, mostly from the trade (importers and retailers). OAM hosts a monthly lunch meeting for organic operators in Kwala Lumpur and publishes the Organic Directory. It is also considering a private label scheme.

    Department of Agriculture (DoA)
    Kem. Pertanian Dan Industri Asa Tani
    Wisma Tani
    Lot 4G1, Presint 4
    Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan
    Tel: +60 3 88701000
    Fax: +60 3 88701467

    Organic Alliance Malaysia (OAM)


    - CIA FactBook, 31.05.07

    - FAO, 24.10.2006: Key Statistics of Food and Agriculture External Trade. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Statistics Division. URL: and 

    - FAO, IFOAM, and Earth Net Foundation (2003): Proceedings of the Seminar on the Production and Export of Organic Fruit And Vegetables in Asia. 

    - IFOAM & FiBL (2006): The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends 2006. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn & Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick, pp. 108-117.

    - Rundgren, G., (2006): Best practices for organic policy: what developing country governments can do to promote the organic sector. UNEP/UNCTAD, 2006.