KEPALA BATAS (Bernama): The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry today handed Padi Planting Management Model Plot incentives of RM303,875 to padi farmers in Penang.
Deputy Minister Sim Tze Tzin said the padi farmers who received the incentive were picked based on areas that were identified as having low harvests - less than five metric tonnes per hectare due to problems of land, weeds, pests and diseases.
‘'The padi disease, Bacterial Panicle Blight (BPB), has threatened the padi planting industry and has spread nationwide.
"It can impact 70% to 75% of padi output. A total of 653ha out of the 12,780ha padi plantation area in the state is affected by BPB. Nevertheless, it is still under control,'' he said.
Sim was speaking at a media conference after opening the 2019 Penang State Level Campaign on Using Authorised Padi Seeds here Saturday (April 20).
According to Sim, the use of padi seeds from unauthorised producers, imported padi seeds and using traditional methods to produce their own padi seeds were some of the factors in the proliferation of the BPB disease in the country.
Sim said authorised padi seeds, which were given by the ministry to padi farmers, must undergo a process of high standards and receive confirmation from the Agriculture Department and the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI).
‘'Factories producing authorised padi seeds are also stringently supervised and the government gives a high subsidy to authorised padi seeds.
"If the padi famers use non-authorised padi seeds, the outbreak of disease cannot be detected and eventually not only will it damage their own crops but also the surrounding padi fields,'' Sim said.
He said the government targeted the production of 72,000 metric tonnes of authorised padi seeds a year to accommodate a padi planting area of 284,000ha nationwide.
In the meantime, Sim advised padi farmers to be more alert and responsible in conducting their own farming activities.
He said subsidies and aid would still be continued to farmers, albeit with some changes, although Malaysia was facing budget constraints.
He also stressed that all quarters must cease and desist from disseminating false news on the alleged withdrawal and cancellation of aid to farmers after the new government took over. - Bernama