Sunday 6 April 2008

The dwindling rice bowl of Malaysia

PM says: We’ll produce more rice

Malaysia's PM says efforts will be made to increase rice production in the country to meet a possible rice shortage in the future.

PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stated Malaysia’s current policy was to produce 65% of its rice needs and import the remainder.

“However, if other countries don’t want to sell rice to us, it will have a negative effect on our people.”

“As such, the government will try to increase rice production in the country so that we can meet 100% of our demand. We want to ensure that we have food security,” he told a press conference in Kuching after meeting Sarawak’s BN elected representatives and component party leaders on Friday 4th April 2008.

I wonder how many percent of the rice consumed in Malaysia is being imported, I hazard a guess it is at least 50%, (in the shops one can see rice imported from Thailand, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Austraia, the USA, Japan, Italy and elsewhere) does anyone know?

Sarawak CM Abdul Taib Mahmud had evidently brought up the issue of the possibility of a future shortage of rice. He also asked for federal government funding and assistance to set up large-scale rice padi estates in Sarawak.

Meanwhile in many parts of Peninsular Malaysia, rice is no longer grown.

Even in the rice bowls of Malaysia Kedah and Perlis, rice cultivation is declining due to development projects which occupy, and therefore destroy prime agricultural land formerly used for the cultivation of rice.

More such projects are in the pipeline, and these threaten to further reduce rice production, since many acres of paddy fields will be destroyed.

Abdullah is, it seems, just talking the talk, certainly rice self sufficiency is vital for Malaysia, but urgent affirmative and effective action is required to achieve this essential goal.

Non semper erit aestas

- It will not always be summer (be prepared for hard times)

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