SEKINCHAN, Nov 20 ― The government is well aware of the problems faced by farmers in the country following the increase in the prices of fertilisers and pesticides in the market, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

As such, he said the Ministry of Finance had been instructed to solve the problems by ensuring that the prices be reduced, while at the same time, providing necessary aid to alleviate the burden of the farmers, especially padi farmers.

“We have discussed the issue in Cabinet meeting and we understand that when the price of pesticides is high, when the price of fertilisers is high, the overall costs will be high too and this will reduce the net income of the farmers.

“Trust me, people’s problem, farmers’ problems are the government’s problems too and we will not let the farmers shoulder those burdens alone. InsyaAllah, we will help,” he said at the launch of the new IS21 Padi Seed variety here today.

Ismail Sabri also explained that the increase in the prices of fertilisers and pesticides was because the items were imported.

Despite the fact that there some local companies, cooperatives and even the National Farmers Organisation (NAFAS) were also producing fertilisers and pesticides, the major raw materials for the production of the items were also imported.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said the government always strived to ensure efforts to improve the productivity of padi and industry be done proactively, including by introducing the latest technologies and empowering its capabilities to face future challenges.

“However, the responsibility should not be shouldered by the government and the farmers alone, as it needs a joint effort, inclusive and together, which is among the main thrusts of the Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family) concept,” he said.

For that, Ismail Sabri called on more local researchers from various fields to conduct research and development (R&D) and work together to come out with agro-food innovation and bring Malaysia towards a high-income nation, hence improving the standard of living of Keluarga Malaysia.

He said the government was always ready to face global challenges and had introduced various people-centred initiatives, including the 12th Malaysia Plan, a comprehensive five-year plan with the aim to achieve a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable Keluarga Malaysia.

The main goal is to become a high-technology and high-income nation with the Research, Development, Commercialisation and Innovation (RDCI) programme having been identified as one of the main thrusts of the 12MP, he said.

For that, the Prime Minister said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) had a vital role to play in formulating RDCI strategies through the development and inculcation of science, technology and innovation (STI) culture among members of the Malaysian Family.

On the launch of the padi seed today, Ismail Sabri said the introduction of IS21 padi seed was the result of Mosti's high-impact project undertaken by the Malaysian Nuclear Agency.

Apart from having a high level of resistance to unpredictable weather and crop diseases, the IS21 seed also has a high potential to provide high yield and increase farmers’ income as it could produce rice up to nine tonnes per hectare if managed according to the guidelines recommended by the government.

“The cost of cultivation can also be reduced by 10 to 20 per cent due to the less use of fertilisers and pesticides. Crop yield can also increase by 40 to 67 per cent, depending on the areas and farmers’ cultivation practices,” he said.

The said Mosti's initiative in producing IS21 was part of its efforts to increase national food security in line with the government’s aspiration to increase its self-sufficient level and reduce dependency on imported rice in the future.

The Prime Minister said the Malaysian Nuclear Agency had also been recognised by International Atomic Energy Agency and Food and Agriculture Organisation at the 65th IAEA General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, last September with the Outstanding Achievement Award in Plant Mutation Breeding.

In line with the Keluarga Malaysia aspiration, he said the national Budget 2022 had allocated RM1.53 billion to continue the subsidy and incentive for padi farmers, which aimed at improving the socioeconomic status of 300,000 farmers.

Ismail Sabri said the government was also in the midst of shifting the orientation of providing subsidies and incentives from input to output with the aim to encourage an increase in productivity among the farmers.

The approach is expected to create a self-regulatory industry environment, thus reducing the involvement of government monitoring along the padi production chain, he added.

Also present at the launch were Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee and Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar. — Bernama