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LANGKAWI, Oct 20 — Farmers, smallholders and fishermen in the country could contribute to the reduction of national food imports if they used new and efficient methods in their endeavours, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
He said methods used by countries with lower reliance on imported food products such as China and Japan could be utilised, in order to yield greater output.
“China and Japan are willing to provide training to our people if we want to learn how they produce more (in terms of agriculture and fisheries),” he said in a press conference after a gathering with farmers at the Langkawi Farmers’ Organisation building here.
According to Dr Mahathir, both countries are known to have achieved food self-sufficiency despite having far larger populations than Malaysia.
“They are willing (at) any time for our farmers to go and study there. In fact, they are even willing to send their people here (to teach new agricultural techniques),” he said.
Dr Mahathir said farmers, smallholders and fishermen need to see their potential to produce higher yields, which in turn increases their income as the biggest incentive for them to improve their work rate, rather than relying on government incentives alone.
He said there were several types of crops such as paddy, coconut, oil palm and rubber that could be cultivated in the form of an estate by merging several smallholdings.
“Big farms are profitable, (whereas) smallholdings aren’t,” he said, adding that the cost of farming operations could also be reduced through the joint venture.
During the ceremony, Dr Mahathir also distributed 4,000 Aromatic Green Dwarf or Pandan coconut seedlings to members of the organisation.
“This (seedlings assistance) is a very valuable contribution. The only thing we (the Government) want is for you (the recipients) to go back and plant them. God willing, we will achieve more meaningful results than the (monetary) incentives given by the Government,” he said. — Bernama