KOTA BELUD: The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry (MAFI) will continue to strengthen the concept of large-scale cultivation to boost rice production, thus realising the country’s 75 to 80 per cent self-sufficient level (SSL) target.
Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee said the country’s SSL was currently at 70 per cent while the remaining 30 per cent relied on imported rice.
Therefore, the large-scale paddy cultivation concept needs to be carried out well by applying a new approach that can reduce costs and dependence on imported rice thus increasing the country’s rice production and farmers’ income, he said.
“We are concerned about the situation of farmers because most of them are in the lower-income group (B40). Various efforts are being and have been taken by the government and we hope the concept of large-scale paddy cultivation with the involvement of the private sector will be able to help improve the country’s paddy and rice industry.
“This includes raising SSL as well as farmers’ income nationwide,” he told reporters after a working visit to the Kota Belud Integrated Agricultural Development Area (IADA) here today. Also present was the agency’s director Salmah Labulla.
Kiandee said the Kota Belud IADA development programme would continue to be intensified this year, including the construction of the agency’s administrative complex, costing RM36 million.
He said the building would provide facilities for Kota Belud IADA staff to plan and implement development activities for farmers, as well as being a training centre (Centre of Excellence) for farmers to increase knowledge in the development of the rice industry.
Apart from that, work to improve and build a new drainage and irrigation system for Kota Belud IADA to continue this year to enable farmers under the agency to be able to plant paddy twice a year, he said.
He said the government had also allocated RM360 million to carry out work to upgrade the drainage and irrigation system as well as crop management methods at Kota Belud IADA, and thus far, RM160 million of the allocation has been used.
During the visit, Kiandee also presented financial assistance amounting to RM264,055.32 to Kota Belud IADA farmers affected by the flood disaster in October last year.
The financial assistance is part of the RM674,821 total assistance for farmers affected by the floods last year.