Promising start to padi pilot project

A glorious sight: A farmer using his tractor at his padi field in Kedah. Mada has implemented a pilot project to increase rice production.

Programme to harvest rice five times every two years kicks off in Kedah and Perlis

ALOR SETAR: Padi farmers in Kedah and Perlis have started the pilot project of harvesting five times every two years to boost local rice production and increase their income.

Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Salleh said this is also part of the government’s effort to increase the output of locally produced white rice in the future.

“The programme to increase the intensity of rice cultivation has been implemented on a 214ha area in a pioneer project. The effectiveness of this programme is evident as the average yield has increased from 3.3 tonnes per hectare to 6 tonnes per hectare,” he said yesterday.

Among the areas that were involved in the project were Kampung Padang Telela, Kampung Sena and Kampung Katong in Perlis. In Kedah, the padi fields are in Pantai Jamai, Titi Gajah A and Plot B in Pendang.

Ismail said more padi fields are being used in the switch to the new cultivation system nationally. Currently, he said locally produced rice can only cater to about 65% of the country’s needs or 1.7 million tonnes a year. The remaining supply is imported from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, he added.

He said Mada is responsible for the supply of about 40% of the rice supply while the remaining 25% of the production is under the purview of other agencies under the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry. Ismail said that in Mada areas, there had been a drop in production of 1% to 2% due to several factors.

“These include weather, diseases and flash floods,” he added.

He said that as at Sept 18, the current harvesting performance under Mada’s purview had reached 20%, with an estimated gross harvest of 100,000 tonnes, equivalent to 54,000 tonnes. He said Mada expects the gross harvest to reach 90% by mid-October, at 450,000 tonnes, equivalent to 274,000 tonnes of rice.

To sustain Malaysia’s rice production, Ismail said Mada implemented a host of other strategic initiatives which include emphasising on large-scale padi planting and the cultivation method to allow padi farmers to harvest five times every two years.

Ismail said that in the cultivation method, meticulous adherence to the various phases of the padi planting is vital, while ample water resources are crucial.

“Our region’s farmers are following a well-structured timeline to optimise yields and ensure efficient resource utilisation,” he added.

At present, he said water resources are more than enough, with Pedu Dam at 83.22% full, Muda Dam at 66.13% full and Ahning Reservoir almost at full capacity at 98.94%.

Mohd Haniff Darus, 36, a padi farmer in Kampung Sedaka, said, “Many other farmers are excited to try. It calls for well-coordinated planning and execution in all aspects of the padi planting such as seeding, watering, fertiliser application and even pest management.

“Everything must be done on time so that we can receive irrigation when the dams release water and deal with pests effectively. We are certain we can increase the supply of rice of the country and reduce rice imports,” he said.

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