JERLUN: Padi farmers are touched by the RM600 one-off handout from the government which would ease their burden while waiting for the next harvesting season.
The special aid, which works out to RM200 a month, is to assist the farmers during the three months they have to wait until harvesting.
The farmers said the cash aid would motivate them to work even harder improving their yield.
Sulaiman Yahya, 70, from Kampung Bukit Tinggi, Kepala Batas who has been planting paddy for 40 years said the cash aid was a blessing for the farmers.
He said at times, the three months period could be a hard time for the farmers to fend for their family while waiting for the harvesting period.
"It was hard before because besides having to work on our paddy plots, we also need to find means to support our family while waiting for the harvesting period.
"As such, this special aid means a lot to us and also motivates us to work harder in improving the yield," he said after the launching of National level Special Handouts for Padi Farmers by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at Pusat Pertumbuhan DESA Sungai Korok, Alor Biak, here today.
He said previously the planting season was once a year before Najib's father Tun Abdul Razak set-up the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) in 1970.
Five years later, the farmers began planting the crop twice a year, in April and September.
“We are grateful that the government has been very supportive of the paddy farmers all these years," he said.
For single mother from Jerlun, Haminah Hanafi, 67, the aid is timely as it would help to ease the burden of her daily expenses.
“I have been working as a farmer for 49 years and the handouts are a relief since I also take care of my young grandchildren.
“I can use the money to buy pesticide and other needs to prepare for the next planting season,” she said.
A total of 325,518 registered farmers nationwide, of whom 258,839 are paddy farmers and the rest hillside padi farmers in Sabah and Sarawak, benefit from the handout totalling RM150 million. -- Reporting by Adie Suri Zulkefli, Petah Wazan Iskandar dan Aizat Sharif