50,000ha earmarked for Borneo padi planting

SEBUYAU: A 50,000ha site has been identified in Sabah and Sarawak for rice planting, says Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said Sarawak premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg had agreed in principle to the matter, but its implementation would take some time.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Rural and Regional Development Minister, said the allocation from the ministry needs to be coordinated with the Sarawak Modernisation of Agriculture Ministry, and the landowner’s consent is required, especially when it involves customary land.

“The type of padi to be planted will be decided according to the suitability of the land in Sabah and Sarawak. I think the cost here is quite high, but that is a different matter. What is important is that there must be self-sufficiency for the rice supply,” he said during the Santuni Rakyat programme at SK Haji Bujang in Sebangan yesterday.

Also present were his deputy, Datuk Rubiah Wang, and Sarawak Utilities and Communications Minister, Datuk Julaihi Narawi, Bernama reported.

Ahmad Zahid said residents in the rural and interior areas must be given priority for any development project, especially in Sarawak, where there are 1.4 million rural residents.

“Since Sarawak has achieved independence for 60 years, it is the joint responsibility of the federal and state governments to develop the rural and interior areas,” he said.

At the event, Ahmad Zahid also announced a RM10mil allocation for the construction of the Giat Mara Centre in Sebangan that will be carried out this year.

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