PUTRAJAYA, June 27 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has called for small-scale farmers to embrace land consolidation and mixed farming as ways to improve their income, and subsequently, lift their standard of living.
Speaking in his officiating speech at the launch of the Rural Development Policy here today, Dr Mahathir said such practices have been implemented by major estates who reaped major profits.
“These estates have large holdings, up to 10,000 or even 20,000 acres and are managed by professionals and utilise best practices and expertise to increase the yield of their estates. They have succeeded to the extent that many have become millionaires.
“But what we see in this country, our farmers are poor and often earn a small income and cannot cover the cost of their agriculture activities which are done on their small land. Some have an acre, two acres, three acres, not enough to provide adequate income as their produce yield is small.
“As long we have these small holdings managed individual by farmers themselves, then they will continue to be poor. That is why the answer to the problems that we face is that farmers must expand their activities by consolidating land,” he said.
Farmers then decide on how best to manage these large agriculture lands based on their extensive experience while coupled with best practices, said Dr Mahathir.
However, Dr Mahathir also said farmers should not depend on one type of crop in their holdings and instead should apply mixed farming as they would have various crop yield all year round.
“This means they would have income all year round. They should not depend on plants such as rubber and palm oil solely.
“Nowadays, flowers, vegetable and fruits are in high demand,” he said, stating further that Malaysia has imported some RM60 billion-worth of vegetables in one year alone.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir explained that rural communities whose main income is agriculture activities have been dependent on the government to provide adequate subsidies and aid programmes.
He said that if small-scale farmers refuse to change their mindset, then poverty and government aid will continue to be a constant among rural communities.