BACKBENCHERS have called for a revamp of the Malaysia Agriculture Research and Development Institute (Mardi), saying that it has failed to meet the objective of helping local farmers.
They said there was also a lack of research and development being conducted by Mardi.
Markiman Kobiran (BN Hulu Langat) criticised Mardi for not coming out with rice varieties suitable for the countrys climate and soil.
The new varieties it had developed were not popular among farmers as they were disease-prone, he said while debating Budget 2006 for the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry at the committee stage.
K. Devamany (BN Cameron Highlands) said Mardi should work with an international organisation and local farmers to raise production levels.
On the subject of Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas), Datuk Badruddin Amirudin (BN Jerai) said it had not been fulfilling its role in helping padi farmers since it was privatised.
The Government, he added, should not give licences for importing rice only to Bernas.
Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN Kinabatangan) concurred, saying that more than one company should be licensed to create healthy competition.
When winding up the debate, the ministrys parliamentary-secretary Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim said the Government did not prohibit the planting of fragrant rice as long as the varieties planted were recognised by Mardi.