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Saturday April 26, 2008

Kedah bans change of padi field status

ALOR STAR: The state government has banned the conversion of padi land to other status to protect the country’s rice bowl.

Mentri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak said conversion of padi fields into housing and industrial lots would no longer be allowed.

“Kedah is the nation’s rice bowl. With the shrinking of global rice supply, we have to take concrete measures to increase self-sustainability in rice production,” he said after presenting aid to thunderstorm victims at SK Kampung Chegar in Pendang yesterday.

Azizan presented RM10,000 to occupants of 58 houses that were destroyed in a recent thunderstorm that affected 10 villages in Pendang.

The Mentri Besar said the state government planned to open 1,500ha of new padi fields at the fringe of existing Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) areas in Yan and Pendang, pending the Federal Government’s approval.

Azizan said preserving and expanding padi fields as well as enhancing productivity were among the measures that could be taken to boost rice production.

He said Kedah was now contributing 53% of total national rice supply.

“To maintain our status as the rice bowl of the nation, we must take concrete measures to boost productivity,” he said.

Azizan also proposed to plant padi five times in two years instead of the current practice of planting twice a year.

“We have to look into and implement all possible measures to increase yield,” he said.

Azizan had recently saved 1,000ha of prime padi field in Yan from being destroyed to make way for a proposed petrochemical zone.

He had called the developers to build a man-made island off the shores of Yan to set up oil refineries.

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