Diesel subsidy: Budi Madani programme can help strengthen local food supply, says expert

KUALA TERENGGANU: The implementation of the Madani Subsidy Assistance or Budi Madani programme is expected to bring a positive impact on the country’s agriculture sector and contribute to the stability of the local food supply.

Dean of the Faculty of Bioresources and Food Industry at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Prof Dr Hafizan Juahir, said the RM200 monthly assistance provided through the programme could reduce operation costs for small-scale farmers and smallholders who rely on diesel-powered vehicles.

"This will, in turn, increase their profits, help them operate more efficiently and enhance their farm productivity.

"This increase in productivity will provide better income for the group and create opportunities to invest in new equipment or technology,” he told Bernama.

The professor, based at the university's Besut campus, is confident that this situation would enhance farmers’ competitiveness when facing more prominent industry players.

"With lower diesel costs, farmers and smallholders can offer their products at more competitive prices in the market. This aid provides direct financial support and encourages them to continue farming and contribute to the stability of the local food supply,” he said.

However, Hafizan expressed concern about potential weaknesses in the programme’s implementation, such as complicated and time-consuming application processes, which could make it difficult for eligible recipients to receive the aid.

Meanwhile, oil palm plantation owner Abdul Aziz Yusuf, 55, said the Budi Madani programme would help ease his burden as he currently spends nearly RM300 on diesel for his Toyota Hilux.

He said that besides transporting palm fruits harvested from the 12-hectare plantation in Kampung Rahmat, Setiu, he also earns extra income by transporting palm fruits for other villagers to a mill located about 10km away.

"I also transport about 10 Felda workers into the plantation. So, I use this Hilux every day, including on weekends. This aid will significantly reduce my monthly diesel costs,” he said.

Similarly, farmer Mohd Jefri Abd Rahman (pic), 47, from Kampung Padang Tapong, Besut, said the aid would lower the operating costs of his farm, which relies on a fertigation system.

Having been involved in cucumber farming for six years, he said direct subsidy distribution to target groups like himself is the best approach to prevent leakage in diesel purchases.

"I own a Toyota Hilux used to market cucumbers around Besut. Currently, my average diesel cost is around RM500 a month, and this assistance is greatly appreciated, especially since cucumber sales can be unpredictable. Sometimes, prices are so low that my income is reduced, yet the diesel usage remains the same,” he said.

Meanwhile, poultry farmer Muhammad Nor Syahidin Abu Hassan, 33, from Kampung Temala Tanjung, Marang, said the aid is truly beneficial for him in dealing with the unstable chicken prices in the market.

"As we know, chicken prices in the market are always fluctuating, so when prices drop, we farmers have to bear higher operating costs. This aid lightens the burden and gives us hope to continue poultry farming to ensure local food supply,” he said.

Muhammad Nor Syahidin said he spent around RM500 to RM600 monthly on diesel for his Toyota Hilux, used for farming activities such as transporting feed for his 25,000 broiler chickens.

The Finance Ministry recently announced that private diesel vehicle owners, including individuals, small-scale farmers and smallholders from the B40 and M40 groups in Peninsular Malaysia, can apply for cash assistance under the Budi Madani programme starting May 28.- Bernama

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