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Measures to empower paddy planting R&D
Published on: Sunday, May 19, 2024
By: Ricardo Unto
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Jeffrey officiated the launching ceremony of this year’s State Kaamatan Festival celebration, in Ranau, recently.
THE Sabah Agriculture Department is taking serious measures to empower research and development of paddy planting in the State.

Deputy Chief Minister I, Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who is also State Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industry Minister, said these include strategies to take advantage of abandoned paddy fields by collaborating with agencies involved in rice development, government-linked companies (GLCs) and the private sector that owns land suitable for rice crop development. 

“This is part of the initiative that is continuously taken by local authorities to advance the agricultural sector, especially to increase rice self-sufficiency in Sabah,” he told Daily Express.  

“Trusan Sapi Rice Cultivation Scheme, Telupid, owned by the Rural Development Corporation (KPD), has a total area of 1,600 hectares suitable for paddy. 

“An 800-hectare (ha) area is cultivated with paddy. The remaining unplanted area, which is 800ha, will also be developed with rice crops and KPD is looking for allocations to implement the project.” 

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had said that the State should stop over-relying on imports and external supplies to meet the demand for rice to strengthen its food security.

He said the State’s current self-sufficiency level (SSL) for rice supply is 22.8 per cent, which is very low. 

This causes Sabah to be highly dependent on rice supply from import and external sources to meet demand.

In this regard, he said Sabah Government actively improved the SSL level when, on April 17, the State Cabinet agreed to revive the Sabah Padi and Rice Board (LPBS) which was dissolved in 1982 due to alleged mismanagement, among others. 

He said reviving the board is part of an initiative to increase food production and security in the State. 

Jeffrey had said the Board would start operating this year in five districts, including Keningau and Tambunan.

The wetland rice-cultivated areas in Sabah are made up of several categories.

“K1 areas (11,082.94ha) have good irrigation and drainage system facilities and a constant and sufficient water source. 

“The K2 areas (6,910.50ha) have satisfactory basic irrigation and drainage system facilities and a water source that depends on the rainy season. 

“The total physical area of paddy fields for K1 and K2 in Sabah is 17,993.44 hectares,” said Jeffrey. 

For now, he said, rice planting is targeted twice yearly for K1 and K2 areas.

“Planting rice five times in two years requires a lot of irrigation facilities and machinery. 

“Implementation of five-harvests-in-two-year cycles requires high costs.”

On developing the hemp industry in the State which was lucrative during colonial days, Jeffrey said, the Sabah Agriculture Department had yet to conduct any specific study. 

“However, all progress and needs of this study will be considered in the future, in line with the needs and changes in the field of agriculture and local industry,” he said. 



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