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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Memorandum to the Minister Concerning Rice

Memorandum to the Minister Concerning Rice

Rice is now becoming a Malthusian nightmare. For a long, long time we refused to believe that such a phenomenon could not happen. Many people especially the politicians held the view that is easier and cheaper to import. The fallacy is that it is only valid for a short term policy.

Barely six months ago, Eastern Times kindly published my first article entitled “Our rice equation and food security”. The date to be exact was September 24, 2007 under Reader’s View column to what is now Avant Garde. The article was actually a condensed version of a paper presented at the PWTC, Kuala Lumpur a year before.

My concern and conviction that our country is not doing enough and doing it right with rice has been bugging me since early 1990’s. At one point I asked the Deputy Director, MARDI why we are neglecting hill or dry padi research. His answer was that the yield of dry padi was too low compared to wet padi. He missed the point that is what MARDI is for - to carry out research and develop technologies to overcome problems. One should not forget that there are communities in the interior which are so dependent on hill padi and they need help.

During an evening session conducted by members of the Agricultural Institute of Malaysia (AIM) with Datuk Effendi Norwawi, who was the Minister of Agriculture then, I raised the issue on rice supply. I said that the country need to jettison strategically for a 100% self-sufficiency. There was an urgent need to review policy and revamp rice research, production, marketing, and other ancillary functions and activities in a wholesome approach.

Rice planting in many states especially Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, and Johore has declined to almost non-existent. Padi cultivation is a tradition. Embedded with it is culture, passion, excitement, willingness to be out there in the open field rain or shine - get muddy, bitten by leeches, razed by the sharp edges of padi leaves. It is still a back-breaking way of life though machineries have taken away much of the drudgeries. Part of culture is gone when we do not plant rice. The Kadazan of Sabah can rightly celebrate their rice festival ‘Keamatan’ because they still plant rice.

Last October, Sustainable Living Institute (SAVE) sent a memorandum along with a twenty page write-up (power-point format) as attachment to the former Minister of Agriculture. We did not receive any reply. We are not sure whether the memorandum reached him for by the look of it his personal secretary was not convinced of the urgency we put forth. Herewith was the memorandum in toto.

Dr. Shaharudin Saamin
Sustainable Living Institute (SAVE)

MI-02-09 Taman Bukit Mutiara
43000 Kajang, Selangor
Tel/fax: 03-87392446, Hp: 013-3763858

2 Oktober 2007

YAB Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin
Menteri Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani
Pejabat Menteri
Aras 17, Wisma Tani
No 28, Persiaran Perdana
Presint 4, 62624 Putrajaya

Yang Amat Berhormat Menteri,

Per: Memorandum untuk Menubuhkan Agensi Khas Penyelidikan Padi dan Beras Malaysia

Merujuk perkara diatas kami dari pihak Sustainable Living Institute (SAVE) ingin mengemukakan memorandum kapada pihak Kementerian Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani agar mengambil langkah untuk meningkatkan teknologi dan logistik kesemua aspek pengeluaran, pemprosesan, pemasaran padi dan beras negara secara menyeluruh digembelingi oleh satu agensi/institusi/lembaga ditubuhkan khas memajukan sektor padi dan beras.

Strategi menubuhkan agensi khas di jangkakan lebih berkesan untuk mencapai matlamat pengeluaran beras negara mencukup 100% mahupun lebih. Kita mengambil contoh tanaman seperti getah, kelapa sawit dan koko yang telah pesat maju selepas diwujudkan institusi penyelidikan atau lembaga masing-masing.

Diunjurkan bahawa daya pengeluaran negara-negara pengeksport beras akan berkurangan kerana bilangan dan keperluan penduduk sentiasa meningkat. Tanaman padi pula menghadapi cabaran dalam ekosistem dari aspek iklim, kesuburan tanah, pencemaran, pengairan, banjir, musuh dan lain-lain faktor yang kian meruncing dan tentu akan mengurangkan kadar hasil dan keluasan tanaman padi. Dalam keadaan tersebut Malaysia

tidak seharusnya bergantung kapada import terutamanya untuk keperluan generasi akan datang.

Bersama ini dilampirkan juga hujah-hujah dan maklumat-maklumat lain yang berkenaan agar memorandum ini mendapat perhatian dan tindakan dari pihak Kementerian Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani.

Sekian dan terima kasih.

Yang benar,

Sustainable Living Institute (SAVE)

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