Local production only meets 38 pct of rice requirement in Sarawak

File photo for illustration purposes only

Follow and subscribe to DayakDaily on Telegram for faster news updates.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, May 25: Sarawak’s rice production industry only meets 38 per cent of its rice requirements, resulting in the import of 145,468 metric tonnes of rice in 2021, valued at RM387 million. 

Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi said the low rice self-sufficiency level (SSL) has impacted the current food security in Sarawak. 

He reported that the total hectarage of paddy in Sarawak has decreased quite significantly from around 130,000 hectares in 2012 to about 83,000 hectares in 2021. 

Hence, the amount of rice produced has also been reduced from 142,000 metric tonnes in 2012 to about 89,400 metric tonnes in 2021. 

To attain a satisfactory level of rice self-sufficiency level of 60 per cent for rice targeted to be achieved by 2030, his ministry has outlined the following six key initiatives to boost rice production in Sarawak including rehabilitating and upgrading infrastructure at 14 existing drainage and irrigation schemes throughout Sarawak involving 2,829 hectares. 

“This is to enable these cchemes to be suitable for paddy planting and to reduce paddy land from being converted by farmers into planting more lucrative crops such as oil palm,” said Dr Rundi while presenting his winding up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today.

Another initiative is to develop new areas for paddy cultivation. The new areas that have been identified for irrigated paddy cultivation include 100 hectares in Kampung Mujat in Serian Division and in Abok- Selepong in Sri Aman Division with an estimated size of 3,000 hectares. 

“My ministry will actively pursue the public-private partnership model to increase private sector involvement to invest in paddy cultivation. Under this initiative, the government will provide basic field infrastructure such as construction of tertiary irrigation system and other facilities while the private sector will invest in paddy production, post-harvest processing and marketing of rice. 

“A new model that is SMART Large Scale Paddy Planting Model (SMART SBB) will be implemented in Sarawak,” said Dr Rundi who is also Kemena assemblyman (GPS-PBB).

The fourth initiative is the introduction of farm mechanisation and automation to paddy planters in Sarawak towards increasing productivity. 

He said in this regards, Pertubuhan Peladang Kawasan (PPK) is encouraged to provide farm mechanisation services to their members towards achieving higher productivity. 

Production of quality paddy seed is another initiative identified by Modernisation of Agriculture Ministry where the farmers are encouraged to cultivate high-yielding varieties which have potential yields of 8 to 10 metric tonnes per hectare. 

“My ministry will collaborate with research and academic institutions and other private firms to produce high-yielding paddy seeds to increase paddy productivity.” 

The sixth initiative involved the introduction of paddy production incentive to paddy farmers and producers to boost domestic paddy production. 

He said this output-based incentive is aimed at encouraging land owners to maximize the use of their lands for paddy planting thus increasing paddy production.  — DayakDaily