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Inefficient padi industry system failing farmers - Kedah exco

Publish date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023, 01:26 PM

ALOR STAR: The issues concerning the national padi industry, including the 'shortage' of locally-produced white rice which led to staple's food price hike is not due to poor farmers' attitude, but a reflection of inefficiency in the current system.

State Agriculture, Plantation and Transport Committee chairman, Dzowahir Ab Ghani, said one of the biggest failures in the system is the current subsidised certified padi seeds quota system.

He pointed out that only four millers were awarded with the quota to produce subsidised padi seeds for farmers in Kedah and Perlis. One of them is MadaCorp, a subsidiary of Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada).

"There's only one government-linked company (GLC), that is MadaCorp, while the other three are private millers. That is the current scenario and the GLC was awarded with the least quota to supply the subsidised padi seeds to the farmers.

"Ironically, MadaCorp represents the farmers. How come a GLC that represents the farmers awarded with the least quota?

"Just imagine, tens of thousands padi farmers in Kedah, Perlis and North Seberang Perai have to depend on these four millers, with the GLC getting the least quota. How is it possible that this system is capable of resolving the issue (padi seeds shortage)?" he said in response to a question from Khairul Anuar Ramli (Perikatan Nasional-Lunas) in debating the state's 2024 Budget.

Commenting further, Dzowahir said the situation failed to help farmers to liberate themselves from poverty ever since the country achieved its independence, not because they are lazy.

"This is among the issues that should be reviewed by the relevant authorities. On behalf of the state government, we have raised this matter to the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry during a meeting between the state's agriculture committee chairman and the ministry.

"We have asked for the quota system to be opened to more players and a quota for the GLCs to be increased. If nothing changes, it will be difficult for us to address the issue," he said.

Dzowahir added that the state has held discussions with the Kedah State Tithe Board (LZNK) to set up its own padi seeds plant and to produce rice.

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