Sarawak's 'Gelombang Padi' initiative a boost for small-scale farmers

KUCHING: In line with the federal government's recently announced 'Gelombang Padi' initiative, the empowerment of grain farmers in Sarawak, particularly those with small landholdings, is becoming a focal point for achieving heightened food security and transforming the state's rice industry.

According to Bernama, Universiti Putra Malaysia's Bintulu Campus director, Prof Dr Shahrul Razid Sarbini, said that padi farming in Sarawak is typically carried out on a small scale and primarily for self-sustenance.

There are farmers in Sarawak who plant padi as a side income and sell their surplus harvest, he said.

"In Sarawak, one of the best strategies to strengthen food security, especially rice, is to empower farmers with small farming plots who have been working their fields for generations.

"Our main challenge is to transform these padi fields to make them switch to modern, safe and sustainable farming methods to increase productivity to an optimal level," he said when contacted by Bernama.

Shahrul also added that empowering these small-plot farmers, who have been cultivating their lands for generations, is crucial.

He said the main challenge is the modernisation of their farming practices to increase productivity sustainably.

On Jan 16, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu announced the 'Gelombang Padi' initiative, which includes 12 programmes designed to enhance the efficiency and resilience of the nation's padi and rice industry.

As reported by Bernama, the initiative aims to introduce new policies such as the Certified Padi Seed Incentive (IBPS) programme, develop soft soil padi land, and support the cultivation of hill padi in Sabah and Sarawak.

The news agency added that Sarawak has the ambition of becoming a rice exporter by 2030.

To this end, Shahrul said the state has initiated padi planting schemes in strategic locations such as the Stumbin-Bijat area in Simanggang and Tanjung Purun in Lundu.

"Apart from that, Sarawak is also working with the relevant agencies and universities to transform padi planting activities in Lubok Punggor, Gedong through the AgriHub@Gedong initiative led by Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Sarawak Campus (UPMKB).

"This initiative intends to empower rice cultivation activities through good and sustainable agricultural practices, and also the use of smart agricultural technology," Shahrul said.

The 'Gelombang Padi' initiative also targets achieving a 100 per cent rice self-sufficiency rate (SSR).

Currently, the national SSR stands at 65 per cent. With these comprehensive efforts, Sarawak is positioned to make significant contributions to the national goal and fortify its agricultural sector for the future.

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