Barely three years ago the government allocated RM150 million to upgrade the irrigation system in Kota Belud, now it wants to pump more money into the scheme.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition DAP has questioned the rationale behind the need to pump in more funds into improving Kota Belud’s irrigation system when RM150 million was set aside for the project barely two years ago.
Party assistant secretary Junz Wong said while the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Noh Omar’s desire to transform Kota Belud into the rice bowl of Sabah was laudable, it is “only right” that Noh disclose how the government would spent the RM150 million to improve the irrigation system.
“What is the result with RM150 million spent to improve irrigation system and flood mitigation aimed at doubling the yield of paddy?
“If we don’t see tangible results based on the already invested amount for better yields, then the ministries concerned should really look into the said project to rectify what actually went wrong.
“Spending more to implement more programmes would not make any sense unless we see results from previous efforts and rectify the problems,” Wong said today.
Noh said recently that the government was confident the rice bowl programme in Kota Belud would be a success.
Sabah deputy chief minister Yahya Hussin also echoed the minister’s views adding that there would be no problem doubling the rice output from the district if the basic infrastructure was in place.
‘Engage stakeholders in Tambatuon’
But Wong however felt that while improving infrastructure was important, it was vital for the Barisan Nasional government to help farmers improve their farming skills and methods which were sorely lacking in the area.
“Some farmers may need guidance to raise their skills and knowledge of paddy farming in order to see better yield productions,” he said.
He urged the government to set up a special institution to train the paddy farmers.
Wong, who is also the DAP youth chief here, reminded Yahya, who is also the state Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries, that the proposed construction of the Tambatuon Dam in Kota Belud, has been openly rejected by the people in the area.
He called for open consultations and dialogues with the stakeholders such as the affected villagers and environmentalists before implementing any major development project such as a dam.
“We must continue to embark on yield improvement strategy on existing acreage before considering other major options.
“We must step up the approach to ensure the paddy farmers are ready for significantly bigger investments,” he said.