Malaysia: Padi farmers: Do more for our rice bowl

The Star 11 Jun 16;

SEKINCHAN: Padi farmers here – known as the rice bowl of Selangor because of its high yield – are hoping that the Government can do more to help those who are struggling.

This year’s drier and hotter weather due to El Nino means the padi harvest this month was no cause for celebration.

Rice yield has dropped by as much as 20%.

“This means if our harvest used to be 10 tonnes, it is only eight now,” said Sekinchan’s Farm Operators Unit chairman Sam Fai.

An average farmer operates a 1.2ha padi field.

The Government, Sam added, was trying to help with announcements under Budget 2016 of a RM300 subsidy and an additional RM50 incentive for each tonne of rice produced.

“However, the deduction for wet padi has been increased from 17% to 20% this year. This was implemented across the board from Batang Kali to Sabak Bernam.

“It cancels out the subsidy we receive,” said Sam, who has a 2.4ha field.

Wet padi is deducted for moisture before being sold. Rice can only be harvested twice a year – in June and December – at a fixed price of RM1,200 per tonne.

The money was not enough to eke out a living, said Sam, a life-long MCA member.

“It is good that my six children are old enough now.

“They are all working in Kuala Lumpur and send me and my wife money every month,” he said.

Besides having to contend with others for water, he said farmers here were not allowed to sell their rice to other states.

“We hope this can be resolved soon,” Sam said.

A former rice farmer, known only as Siaw, said he now grew kangkung, okra and choy sum to make a living although these were also not risk-free.

Sekinchan is home to more than 1,000 padi farmers operating some 1,200ha of fields.

It has over 9,000 of the 13,000 Chinese voters in Sungai Besar.

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