Rice production allowed to go full steam during lockdown, says Agriculture Ministry

PETALING JAYA: The rice production sector can operate 24 hours a day at 100% manpower capacity during lockdown, says the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry.

The ministry said it enhanced the standard operating procedure for rice production following the extension of the nationwide lockdown to keep the nation's supply of rice at healthy levels.

It added that the new SOP applies to several activities in the rice production supply chain such as planting, ploughing and harvesting, field maintenance and irrigation, usage of drones for seed sowing and disease control, distribution of materials such as fertilisers and padi seeds to farmers, operation of factories including those dealing in seeds, rice production and packaging, distribution and logistics and the operation of factories manufacturing rice-based products.

The nationwide lockdown has been extended until June 28.

Separately, pest control measures were carried out after large swathes of padi fields in Selangor came under attack.

The ministry said pests have been harming padi stalks and leaves since mid-May, affecting about 98% of 6,805.2ha of padi fields in the Panchang Bedena and Bagan Terap/Sungai Panjang areas.

It said the Selangor Northwest Integrated Agricultural Development Area (IADA) worked together with the state Agriculture Department to take pest control measures including spraying effective pesticides, improving the management of rice stalks and conducting rice checks.

It is understood that the pest attack has no effect on domestic food supply.

"Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee has gone to the ground to ensure that pest control measures were conducted well," the ministry said in a statement on Thursday (June 17).

It added that the ministry has also contributed to the Tabung Bencana Tanaman Padi to distribute assistance to affected padi farmers and also thanked the state government for contributing RM1.05mil to assist with pest control measures.

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