Thursday, November 17, 2011
IS NOH OMAR BRAVE ENOUGH?
The feet get soaked in mud for hours, plus the rain, hot sun, lintah, cuts by the razor sharp padi leaves do not make work easier. I have done it all.
The Bario rice produced in the Bakalalan highlands in Sarawak is done manually with some help from buffaloes. The area is isolated and not accessible by road so the Kelabit villagers have to produce their own crop of rice. It is a specialty rice which they are proud of.
Even with the aid of machines work is still not easy.
Harvesting machines increase work and production efficiency but still we need to import 30% of rice from Thailand,Vietnam, and Cambodia. There will be rice shortage for export because the flood in Thailand wiped out 1.4 million hectares (14%) of padi land.
In September Noh Omar said that we have rice stockpile to last for 45 days (300,000 metric tonnes) and in October he said enough for 4 months (1 million tonnes)!! Whatever it is that is good for short term only.
For the long term food security measure there are 2 things he must do if he is brave and smart enough:
1. Open up another mega padi area the like of MADA in East Malaysia;
2. Beef up rice research by setting up a National Rice Research and Development Institute/Board (like MPOB).
A budget of RM5 billion is needed initially to kickstart the two-prong approach.