‘CEP proposes padi subsidy be expanded to other crops’

There are proposals to replace low-yielding padi fields with vegetable or fruit farms. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) has suggested that the giving of subsidies to the padi industry be expanded to other crops that bring high yields to farmers, the Farmers’ Organisation Authority (FOA) said today.

The federal agency said among the issues highlighted during talks between itself and CEP today was the difference in rice yields outside and inside padi planting areas.

According to FOA, lands outside the padi areas generally did not have adequate irrigation infrastructure to produce high yields of padi and could only harvest about 3.2 to 3.9 metric tonnes per hectare.

In contrast, rice yields in rice bowl areas under the Muda Agricultural Development Authority and Kemubu Agricultural Development Authority were higher at 4.8 to 5.5 metric tonnes per hectare, it said.

“These differences necessitate serious attention because the government spends almost RM1 billion in subsidy annually,” said FOA in commenting on a report on the government’s proposal to reduce the distribution of RM800 million in subsidy to 350,000 rice farmers nationwide.

FOA director-general Hamzah Bahari was reported as saying that the proposed reduction of the subsidy involved RM2,600 per hectare annually to the farmers, following disproportionate production of output with the amount of subsidies provided.

Commenting further, FOA said the discussion had also recommended that more effective avenues and approaches be identified to increase padi farmers’ income and take into account relevant factors to improve the quality of life of farmers and their families.

“We can replace padi with other crops such as vegetables, chilies, cucumber, ginger, rockmelon, and fruits such as durian, mangosteen, soursop and the new variety of coconuts that yield more lucrative returns,” FOA said.

FOA added that it believed a good approach was to identify padi fields outside the padi areas to carry out replacement programmes for padi, or include the planting of vegetables and fruits to increase the income of farmers.

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