GEORGE TOWN, March 9 — Deputy Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi has assured paddy farmers that the National Farmers Organisation (Nafas) will be distributing quality paddy seeds at reasonable prices during this planting season.

He said Nafas was appointed as the sole distributor for the Certified Paddy Seed Incentive programme as a measure to resolve decades-long issues regarding the quality of seeds and high prices set by suppliers.

He said the government is aware of complaints by farmers on the high prices of seeds and poor quality seeds from some suppliers along with complaints of a monopoly by certain quarters.

“This is why we have made the decision to let Nafas supply the paddy seeds directly to the farmers starting with this planting season this month to resolve these issues,” he said when met with reporters after visiting the urban farm at the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) premises here.

He said Nafas will be selling the paddy seeds at reasonable prices and the seeds will be of good quality.

Previously, he said the government had appointed between nine and 11 companies through open tender to supply the seeds but the ministry had received complaints such as higher prices and poor quality seeds.

He said some of these companies’ contracts are still in force so Nafas could not take over as the supplier completely yet but it will be doing so gradually

“Nafas has no commercial interest as it is a government organisation so it would be able to carry out as a sole distributor of paddy seeds without any issues such as higher priced seeds,” he said.

He said the government had previously set the ceiling price for paddy seeds at RM35 for 20kg and hoped that Nafas will be able to supply the seeds at this price.

Nafas was appointed by the ministry at the end of 2020 as the sole wholesaler under the Certified Paddy Seed Incentive programme to supply seeds directly to farmers.

Meanwhile, on urban farming, Che Abdullah said a total RM37 million was allocated in 2020 and 2021 to be disbursed to individuals and organisations that took up urban farming nationwide under the Kebuniti Project.

“The Kebuniti Project has received overwhelming response and we have received a total 42,370 applications under the project,” he said.

He said a total RM7.32 million allocation under the National Economic Recovery Plan or Penjana was disbursed to 13,524 individuals and 632 communities in 2020.

Under Penjana, the urban farming package assistance will include seeds, fertiliser and equipment to individuals worth RM500 for each recipient and up to RM50,000 for each community.

“For phase two of the project in 2021, the agriculture department has allocated a total RM21.18 million which will benefit 27,525 individuals and 1,046 communities in the country,” he said.

Over in Penang, a total RM500,000 were disbursed to 629 individuals and 76 communities in 2020 while this year, a total RM1.28 million was allocated to benefit 741 individuals and 84 communities.

He said urban farming will help each individual to save up to RM110 in grocery expenditures each month.