Too early to determine success or failure of KB paddy project – Dr Ronald

 

KOTA BELUD: It is still too early for any party to evaluate or determine the success or failure of the government’s initiative to turn Kota Belud into Sabah’s ‘rice bowl’, said Agriculture and Food Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee.

He said the 5,000-hectare padi cultivation project involving over 3,600 farmers was still ongoing, and this includes building and improving infrastructure such as irrigation systems to ensure better yields.

According to Kiandee, RM159 million out of a total of RM350 million allocated under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) has been spent to date on the project managed by the Kota Belud Integrated Agricultural Development Area (IADA), with the remainder to be streamlined under the 12MP.

“It (the project) is still under the development process, and it is too early to say it is a failed project. IADA (Kota Belud) was established five years ago, however, it has already seen some early success, including growing rice twice a year instead of only once.

“This success (of planting rice twice a year) is due to the better irrigation system,” he told reporters after surveying the padi fields during his working visit to the Kota Belud IADA here yesterday.

He was asked to comment on a statement by Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal in Beluran on May 7, that the padi project in Kota Belud had yet to yield encouraging results, and that a new approach was needed to ensure its success.

Dr Ronald said the Kota Belud rice cultivation area currently produced 60 per cent of the rice crop in Sabah, and his ministry would continue to focus on making it the state’s ‘rice bowl’.

This includes strengthening the drainage system and carrying out river dredging in Kota Belud, which is often exposed to floods, causing the villagers to suffer heavy losses, he said.

“There is still a lot to be done. Some new additions to projects are currently being worked on by the ministry, and will be finalised soon. After all the planned development is carried out, we expect to see more success with the Kota Belud IADA in the future,” he said.

In a related development, Dr Ronald said Padiberas Nasional Berhad (BERNAS) would be involved in the construction of five rice mills in the state beginning next year, as part of the agency’s social responsibility efforts.

Meanwhile, Dr Ronald in a brief ceremony held at the Kota Belud IADA office handed over RM202,663 in donations via the Padi Planting Disaster Fund to 185 farmers who had suffered heavy losses due to the drought in March.

On padi farmers affected by recent floods in the area, he said the losses were still being determined, and the process would take at least 45 days. – Bernama

 
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New Sabah Times