Monday, June 30, 2008

Agriculture: Improve our rice production; dont just TALK and TALK and SIGN and SIGN!

I was reading Bernama reports that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today urges Malaysia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to jointly develop their agricultural sector amid surging food prices worldwide.

That's one thing good about our government. From time to time, we sign MOUs with many countries in various fields - agriculture, science and technology, trade, etc. When it comes to attending local requirements, we still limp around.

We are still far from becoming self-sufficient in producing our own food, especially rice.

Our government should look into this aspect. Many ways can be done to achieve self-sufficiency if we subscribe to prudent and proper planning.

Cooperating with foreign countries is good, at least at our diplomatic level. However, after hundreds of memorandum of understanding (MoU) and other papers, we still cannot address our rice production. The best way so far was to import.

Now that imported rice is getting more expensive, the only way to go (if the government is serious about it) is to re-cultivate our padi fields.

Look! There are about 1.7 million acres of abandoned padi fields throughout the country. By logic, we should be self-sufficient enough in our rice production.

Let's not talk about the past and who to blame. We should find a way to improve our production, instead.

Now, the government has allocated RM3 billion for food and its subsidy. That's a lot of money. If we utilise just RM2b of it, almost half of our abandoned padi fields can be planted again. Our farmers can get the benefit, the rakyat can purchase rice at lower price while the government could save a lot by reducing its imports.

First, turn all padi fields into a big estate, put it under a caretaker company appointed either by the Federal or State Governments. In this regard, maybe, one government company or agency is enough to monitor progress of re-cultivating the estate.

Prepare a fund or grant or insentive for landowners. By applying modern technology in cultivating, planting and harvesting, the government can consider a quantum to landowners upon harvesting, depending on their acreage. At the same time, this landowners can earn extra income if they, too, work in their padi fields.

Since the younger generation are no more interested to work as farmers, technology may change their perception. At state level, they may be employed by the government agency as supervisors for the projects.

This is where Lembaga Padi and Beras Negara (LPN) can play a pivotal role. Any amount of padi harvested from this estate will be sent to LPN mills for skinning and gradings.

However, all this must be free of politics. Regardless of political parties, the government and the rakyat must work alongside to achieve its objective.

Even the government agencies, especially those managing it, must not treat this as a mean to make easy money by 'squeezing' the landowners with their own set of stipulated conditions.

For instance, if the Federal Government approves a fund RM100 million for Melaka State Government, a monitoring body must be appointed to ensure that each and every single sen is disbursed for that purpose, not to flow into the pockets of ministers, senior government officers, director of agency, etc.

Now, we only need Pak Lah to discuss it with his Cabinet members. Dato Mustapa Mohamed who is in-charge of our agriculture, should take a closer look at this.

If we can discourage Malaysians to go abroad for vacation (as we have everything in our own compound), we can tell Bernas to reduce rice imports by giving their fullest cooperation in this idea. I may not be the right agriculture expert but I have been to many agriculture-based countries. I have observed how they worked.


Anonymous said...

Importing rice is much more profitable than rasiing the standard of living of our rice farmers.

After all, there is commission to be earn from buying rice rather than growing rice locally.

Anonymous said...

good idea, bro. the govt should consider this although it may take time

Anonymous said...

time is what we have.

we will still be here for the next 50 years and more....but can't say the same about the present government though ;)

Anonymous said...

bro, aku rasa kau je la jadi menteri pertanian, ganti tokpa!

razak - kemamang

Monster Mom said...

If the government is sincere, they shouldn't have privatized LPN to BERNAS...
The commission of buying rice plays a big role in this matter. A lot of politicking going on there....