LPP, Mada laud agriculture ministry move to review padi seeds production quota

ALOR STAR: The Farmers' Organisation Board (LPP), Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) and padi farmers have lauded the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry's decision to review the current quota for certified padi seeds production.

LPP chairman Datuk Mahfuz Omar said the move to increase subsidised padi seeds production quota for government-linked companies (GLCs) and government agencies based on their production capacity will safeguard the nation's food security.

"Matters regarding rice production is very crucial as we are talking about food security, especially as rice is our staple food. Production must be carefully guarded by the government.

"We need to ensure that no private entity could manipulate the market and contradict government directives. By allocating more quotas for government agencies and GLCs, we can ensure that this will not happen.

"Now is the time for the government to ensure that the funds allocated to build all these padi seed mills through government agencies is a worthwhile investment," he told the New Straits Times today.

Mahfuz said the four GLCs and government agencies are capable to fulfil over 60 per cent of the certified padi seeds production quota by 2025.

He said all of the government investments to build the padi seeds production facilities at the GLCs and agencies would go to waste should the production quota is not increased from the current 30 per cent.

"The government has already allocated RM9.26 million for the construction of a padi seeds mill in Kubur Panjang and another RM10.26 million for a mill in Perak under the LPP.

"The one in Kubur Panjang is capable of producing up to 5,000 metric tonnes of padi seeds now. The project is completed but what's the use if we can only produce 3,000 metric tonnes? It will be such a waste," he added.

Mada chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Salleh said the move will also minimise the risk of subsidised padi seeds supply disruptions.

"The recent certified padi seeds supply crisis was caused by the lack of cooperation from the private producers. They completely disregarded government directives to sell seeds at a fixed price.

"Even at the fixed price of RM45 per 20 kilogrammes bags, there is already a profit, but they refuse to sell it at the price because they want to score huge profit at the expense of national food security and padi farmer's welfare," he added.

Dr Ismail said that with the current quota, Mada produces 7,000 metric tonnes of padi seeds annually, whereas their actual capacity is 12,000 metric tonnes.

He assured that with an increased quota, Mada will be able to produce over 10,000 metric tonnes of padi seeds next year based on its financial capability.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Padi Farmers Brotherhood Organisation (Pesawah) executive council member Abdul Rashid Yob called for the government to cap the quota to the private sector at below 40 per cent.

He also stressed that while reviewing the quota, the government should ensure that the certified padi seeds' quality produced meets industry standards.

"Recently, there is an issue regarding padi seeds quality. Farmers have started complaining because their crops are not up to standard. So, the government also needs to address this issue," he added.

On Monday, it was reported that the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry will revise the current 30 per cent quota for certified padi seeds production awarded to government-linked companies and agencies next year.

Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said the government decision to increase production quota of the subsidised padi seeds for GLCs and agencies would depend on their individual production capacity.

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