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2008 Nov 11 - Scrap Bernas monopoly on supply of rice


Kota Kinabalu (Nov 11, 2008): In response to recent press release from Sabah Commercial Rice Miller Association (Padikom) President, Jaujip Pangalin, we applaud the association for voicing out the problems faced by the association and its members.The comprehensive reasons as well as figures detailed in the press statement shows the extent of unfair treatment meted out to local padi farmers and millers.

Why is the government subsidy given to millers in Sabah lower than in Semenanjung, reported to be at RM800 per metric tone? It is alarming to note that BERNAS action in selling imported rice cheaper than local rice will also cause padi farmers to stop planting padi and the inevitable closure of rice millers.

Have we not learned from the recent world food crisis debacle? What is worrying is when the effects of the global economic downturn reaches the shores of Sabah, our staple diet, rice will be imported like other commodities. One can only guess how much subsidy can the government give then? How long can we rely on rice exporting countries to supply to us and at what price? The price will then sky rocket to the whims and fancies of the exporting countries.

The Chief Minister’s announcement back in May that a “further 26,500 hectares of land was needed for padi cultivation in order to achieve self sufficiency”. Has the land been identified? What exactly has been done by the relevant ministry to safeguard Sabah from another episode of rice shortage?

As such, SAPP Youth urges the government to re-establish the defunct Sabah Padi and Rice Board. This Board will look specifically into managing the padi planting and rice production within the State. The affairs of the padi farmers, millers and all in the industry can also be under the Board’s purview. The Board shall also seek a licence from the Federal Government to import/export rice. This licence will enable the Board to import rice if the current padi cultivation programme is not ready to cater for the State’s needs. Similarly, any excess can be sold to other countries.

It is also hoped that with the setting up of the proposed local agency, Sabah Padi & Beras Board, may be then can we see yields of up to 15 tonnes of padi per hectare as in Sekinchan, Selangor, as compared to only 3 metric tone currently found in Sabah. This five fold increase is achievable with enough resources and R & D.

Edward Dagul
Youth Chief


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