Hajiji: Sabah actively addressing food security needs

RANAU: Sabah has set up a committee through the state Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industry Ministry to discuss and address food security needs.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said it was part of various initiatives to enhance the self-sufficiency level (SSL) of agricultural produce, especially rice, in the state.

"This is because Sabah currently only achieves a self-sufficiency level of 22.8 per cent, with the rest still relying on rice supplies from external sources or imported rice.

"At the same time, unpredictable weather conditions greatly affect agricultural yields, including in this state.

"Therefore, on April 17, the state cabinet agreed to revive the Sabah Padi and Rice Board as part of the initiative to increase production and food security in the state.

"In addition, the allocation of RM18 million for the Padi Field Plowing Incentive is among the initiatives implemented in the 2024 Budget," he said at the launch of the Sabah Harvest Festival Celebration at the Ranau Community Hall here, in a speech delivered by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who is also the state agriculture, fisheries and food industry minister.

Other initiatives taken, said Hajiji, include the rehabilitation of abandoned padi fields, dry land padi development, increasing the number of plowing and harrowing machines, providing optimal fertiliser and subsidising rice sales to all farmers with an allocation of RM5.16 million.

To enhance crop production further, he said, the state government, through government-related companies such as Sawit Kinabalu, also participates in rice cultivation using modern methods to increase local crop production and supply.

He said Sawit Kinabalu has provided suitable areas specifically for padi cultivation.

"I also hope that players in the agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sectors will continue to increase crop yields to provide sufficient food supply to the people and, most importantly, seize all opportunities through various initiatives provided by the state government," he said.

Regarding the Harvest Festival celebration, he said it was an important event for the people of Sabah, celebrated every May, especially by the Kadazandusun Murut and Rungus communities.

"The Kaamatan Festival aims not only to strengthen ties and unity among the multiracial and multi-religious people but also to express gratitude for a good harvest," he said.

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