PUTRAJAYA, June 13 — A total of 56,446 Sabah and Sarawak hill paddy farmers will benefit from the RM44 million allocation under the Hill/Huma Paddy Fertilisers and Pesticides (SBRPB) Scheme, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub.
He said under the scheme 11,684 farmers in Sabah and 44,762 farmers in Sarawak would receive subsidies when the planting season begins in early August.
The SBRPB scheme which was introduced in 2015 is a government initiative to support growth and development of paddy cultivation in Sabah and Sarawak.
“Through this initiative, hill paddy production increased from one metric tonne per hectare to 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare thus raising farmers’ income from RM180 per month to between RM320 and RM700 per month,” he said.
“It is hoped that farmers will be able to improve productivity and generate more income from time to time through the scheme,” he said when met by reporters after an Aidilfitri celebration at his ministry here today.
Salahuddin said the ministry was in the midst of studying various models of land consolidation and the selected model would be announced by the end of this year.
“in selecting the model, we will take into consideration the land owners, farmers, investors and government’s interests. An agency under this ministry will lead the land consolidation process,” he said.
He added that several policy changes must be made to ensure land consolidation and modernisation of the paddy sector could be achieved, among them, those working on paddy fields of over 10 hectares to be entitled to subsidies and farmers to be given the freedom to choose agricultural inputs.
“Modernisation of paddy cultivation can only be realised through large-scale agriculture and to achieve economies of scale, land consolidation must be done,” he said. — Bernama