LPP, Mada call for stern action against private padi seeds producers

ALOR STAR: The national Farmers Organisation Authority (LPP) and Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) have called on the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry to take stern actions against private certified padi seeds producers over supply shortage.

National LPP chairman Datuk Mahfuz Omar acknowledged Kedah padi farmers' plight over the shortage of certified padi seeds supply, which affecting the current padi planting cycle that began in September.

He said the supply shortage were causing serious hardship to farmers as they were forced to purchase the seeds at above the ceiling price of RM45 for a packet of 25kg set by the government.

"This situation warrants for a serious action by the Padi and Rice Regulatory Board under the Agriculture and Food Security to be proactive in investigating the private producers, instead of just waiting for complaints from the farmers.

"The Board should have the names of the agents appointed by the private certified padi seeds producers and carry out the investigation.

"They should go undercover to catch the culprits instead of simply asking the agents for feedbacks," he said in a joint press conference with Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Salleh here today.

Mahfuz also urged the Board to inform Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu to plug loopholes in the current regulations pertaining to the supply chain of padi seeds.

"If there is any issue from the laws' point-of-view, then they may advise the minister to come up with new regulations to be enforced, without having to go through the hassle of making amendment to the existing law in Parliament," he said.

Mahfuz added that there were 12 certified padi seeds producers nationwide granted an accumulated quota of 72,000 metric tonnes, with eight of them being private producers.

"All the four government agencies entrusted to produce the certified padi seeds have no issue to meet the production quota and selling the seeds according to the ceiling price.

"The problem is with the private padi seeds producers. The government should blacklist the agents and producers who are caught for selling the certified padi seeds above the ceiling price.

"This matter is concerning the nation's staple food and food security and may even leading towards food insecurity in the long run," he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Ismail called on the Board to take a stern action against the private certified padi seeds producers and their agents.

"There are 12 certified padi seeds producers, 13 wholesalers and 456 agents nationwide. The seeds produced by the private producers were distributed agents who refused to supply them to the PPKs (Area Farmers Organisation).

"Not only they refused to deliver the supply to the PPKs, they are also selling the seeds at way beyond the ceiling price set by the government. This is causing the current padi seeds supply crises," he said.

He further claimed that only the retailers under PPKs complied to the ceiling price while the 456 agents appointed by the private producers failed to adhere to the government's instruction.

"There is no action (by the Board), except for one. They could have taken action but they are not doing that on an excuse that there is no proof.

"What proof? Where is the proof that we regulate (the selling price?). The Board could have just investigate any retailers based on the information they have in hands," he said.

He also called on the ministry to expand the role of the special taskforce investigating the white rice supply issue to probe the private padi seeds producers.

"The Board's function is to issue licence, carry out enforcement, as well to investigate and prosecute. If the Board didn't have the capacity to execute its duties, then I hope the task force will expand its operation to investigate the supply shortage of padi seeds.

"The task force, comprising multiple agencies including the police, Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission may take firm action against the culprits," he said.

Dr Ismail said the government should act swiftly and firmly against the 'arrogant' producers.

He did not discount possibilities of discreet pacts to force the government to raise the current ceiling price of RM2.60 per kg for locally produced white rice.

He stressed that the shortage of padi seeds for the current planting cycle would adversely affect the upcoming planting cycles, thus harming the country's food security.

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