KOTA KINABALU: Oil palm plantation owners are being asked to do their bit to help Sabah in its bid to become self sufficient in padi production.
State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin is asking plantation owners to set aside 10% of their land for the cultivation of the food crop.
He said the Agriculture Department had identified some 300,000ha of land that was suitable for padi cultivation but much of these areas were already planted with oil palm.
“These plantation companies should set aside a portion of their areas for padi cultivation.
“They can still make money while contributing to Sabah’s food security,” Yahya after launching a seminar on the control of pests and diseases here.
He said Sabah’s padi production could only meet 20% of demand for the food crop in the state.
“If every oil palm plantation does its bit, we will see padi production increasing and we won’t have to rely so much on imports,” said Yahya who is also deputy chief minister.
He said the government could do little to stem the conversion of existing padi cultivation areas, especially those near urban centres.
“We have been advising landowners against converting their padi planting areas into commercial, industrial or housing estates but they do it anyway,” Yahya added.