A check with the website of the Parliament of Malaysia reveals that the debate for the Budget 2009 will continue on its sitting on Monday, 3 November 2008.
A lot of us have not forgotten how a group of our Barisan Nasional (BN) Members of Parliament who went on a hastily arranged study tour to Taiwan on agricultural in September this year. The main reason given by the Chairman of the ruling government Barisan BackBencher Club (BNBBC) Datuk Tiong King Sing, the study tour would provide the MPs to grasp the latest technology knowhow to allow them to debate the budget 2009 of which a huge fund had been allocated for agriculture in Malaysia.
We have yet to see constructive debates or suggestions by the BN MPs on agricultural advancement on the current parliament sitting which began from 18 August to 11 December 2008. The sitting which resumed after the break for the muslim fasting month had witnessed no “sharing” of experiences by any BN MPs on their knowledge gained from the Taiwan study tour. (I stand to be corrected if they had.)
While these are happening, the real hardship and challenges faced the farmers especially those in padi are left unaddressed.
Today I met with the chairman of the Sabah Commercial Rice Miller Association (PADIKOM), Mr Janjip Pangalin who hails from Kota Belud, Sabah. He questioned the sincerity of the government to uplift the livehood of the farmers in padi cultivation. In Sabah there are 49,000 hectares of padi field but it only yields a production of 24,000 metric tone in 2007.
If the government are willing to buy the rice from us at a higher price, the farmers would benefit and they would hard even harder to get a higher yield. With a higher price, it would also encourage more land to be utilized for padi cultivation.
Currently the government under Sazarice buy the local rice at a price of RM1.65 per kilogram. However, it cost a total of RM1.79 to produce per kilogram of local rice. (Ricemiller buys the padi from farmer at a price tag of RM1.36 per kilogram and it cost RM0.43 to process per kilogram rice).
In comparison, recently the government had bought rice from our neighbouring country Thailand at a price of RM3.50 per kilogram. These are In turn sold to the retailers at a price of Rm1.36 and are retailed at RM1.80 per kilogram.
This means the government is SUBSIDIZING THAILAND FARMERS RM2.15 per kilogram!
Hence, Janjip hope that the government will at the minimum provide the same subsidies that are currently enjoyed by the famers and ricemillers in Peninsular Malaysia (why is it always we get the feeling that Sabah & Sarawak lose out more???). It is better to subsidize our own local famers rather than benefit other country farmers.
On this matter, at least the SAPP Member of Parliament for Sepanggar, Datuk Eric Enchin Majimbun in has a resolution in the Malaysia Parliament (whether it will be received we don’t know as his party SAPP which pulled out from the ruling BN after losing their confidence in Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the Prime Minister) that reads “This House to deliberate seriously that the padi cultivation industry can be reinvigorate and enhanced. That suitable vacant land be developed to meet the needs of our food industry. That the government should consider financial assistance as well as technical advises in this industry”.
* Translation were done ‘simple-simple’ style by myself so any mistake under your own corrections.
(Anyway, the official Bahasa Malaysia excerpt is as below;)
Datuk Eric Enchin Majimbun [ Sepanggar ] akan mencadangkan:-
“Bahawa Dewan ini membincang dengan seriusnya agar perusahaan penanaman padi dapat digembleng dan dipertingkatkan. Kawasankawasan sesuai yang terbiar seharusnya diusahakan demi untuk menampung keperluan makanan utama kita. Kerajaan seharusnya mempertimbangkan bantuan kewangan serta nasihat teknikal dalam perusahaan yang murni ini.”
At least all is not lost as they say it just take a spark to start the fire. So it is hope that, Datuk Eric’s voice will bring about the very much needed boost for the rice farmers and ricemillers specifically and those in the food production industry generally.
Hainan Chicken Rice anyone? I know my friend Jackquline Oh from Penang will join me.