KOTA KINABALU: The new state government is considering the possibility of reviving the defunct Sabah Padi Board in a bid to increase rice production and spur rural economy in the state.
Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong said a technical team would be set up to study all aspects of the matter before any decision was made.
“We will also look at the reasons why the board was previously liquidated,” he said yesterday.
Wong was responding to public calls for the re-establishment of the board.
“I agree that the re-establishment of Sabah Padi Board, which was dissolved in 1981, is an essential component of rural development and in uplifting the well-being of the padi farmers,” he added.
Prior to the dissolution of Sabah Padi Board, he said, Sabah achieved 70% rice production but today it was around 26%.
In view of the global environmental issues that may have a detrimental effect on global rice production, there were also calls for the re-establishment of the board since rice is a security commodity.
“In re-establishing the Sabah Padi Board, we have to look at many aspects, including production, processing, marketing and rice import.
“As water is the most important component in rice production, we have to refurbish and upgrade our irrigation system if we are to set up the board,” Wong said.
He said there was also a need to look into new technologies to increase production such as the System of Rice Intensification, which is widely practised in Indonesia.
Sabah existing padi areas are Tuaran, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu, Papar, Tambunan and Keningau.
Wong said there were other areas that could be developed such as Sook, Trusan Sapi and Kinabatangan.
“One of the challenges should we re-establish the Sabah Padi Board is the land use and sizes, as well as the tenure system, which must all be addressed,” he added.