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By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Sept 30: Betong MP Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat requests RM236 million from the federal government to upgrade infrastructure of 18 existing paddy cultivation schemes that covers an area of 7,515 hectares and has the potential to produce 22,545 metric tonnes of paddy per season.
While debating on the 12th Malaysia Plan today in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Robert said that Sarawak, with its vast land resources has the potential to become the country’s main food hub if there is commitment, attention and support from the federal government through financial allocation, to increase capacity and efficiency in the agricultural sector.
He said Sarawak is far behind Peninsular Malaysia in terms of agricultural infrastructure as almost all paddy cultivation areas are dependent on natural rainfall due to the absence of or outdated irrigation systems.
“Therefore, Sarawak needs allocations either to develop new areas or to rehabilitate and upgrade irrigation and drainage infrastructure in areas of existing paddy cultivation schemes,” said Robert.
He said there are 18 existing paddy irrigation and drainage scheme areas throughout Sarawak which have been identified with an area of 7,515 hectares that need conservation work (rehabilitation) to enable the area to be replanted with paddy.
“If the infrastructure in the area can be restored and upgraded, it has the potential to produce about 22,545 metric tonnes of paddy at an estimated 3 metric tonnes of yield per hectare per season.
“If the infrastructure were to be upgraded to a tertiary level that allows the cultivation of two seasons a year, then production will double. The estimated cost of conserving and upgrading infrastructure in the existing area is around RM236 million,” said Robert.
He said with financial assistance and commitment from federal government, Sarawak will be able to achieve the target of 75 per cent national rice subsistence level by 2030. — DayakDaily