Technology, loans to lure youths to farms
Aging farmers, traditional farming worrying: Minister
KENINGAU: A RM20 million Paddy Seedling Centre will be officially opened at Kota Belud in January next year.
The centre, the third and largest such facility in the State, has the capacity to store 2,000 metric tons of paddy seedlings, said Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail here yesterday.
Rahim said the other two centres with storage capacities of 1,000 metric tons and 1,500 metric tons are located in Papar and Tenom respectively.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman will officiate at the opening of the centre at Kota Belud early next month, he said after officiating at the handing over of paddy harvesting machines to 11 selected farmers from several districts at the Agriculture Department Paddy Mechanization Station in Binaong near here.
Rahim hoped that with the full operation of the Paddy Seedling Centres, farmers in this State will not be facing any problem in getting paddy seedlings, especially during planting season.
Regarding the seedling centre situated at Tenom, he said only 75 percent is used for paddy seedlings while another 25 percent is used for other crop seedlings.
Earlier in his speech, he said 60 per cent of the farmers, livestock breeders and fishermen today are aged above 65 years old.
"The government views this matter seriously, especially in attracting our youths to get involved in agricultural field in an effort to maintain and expand the sector in the State," he said.
He is also worried because younger generations today are not interested to work in the farms.
Besides, many farmers are still practising traditional farming, which cannot increase their crop yield.
Rahim believed that using modern technology could create an impact and attract new farmers among the younger generations to be involved in this sector.
"Besides providing modern technology facilities, the Government through the Ministry also will give loans with easy repayments," he said.
He also urged farmers' bodies in this State to give their full support to the Government's halatuju in an effort to reduce food imports in the State by increasing their paddy yields and through balance of trade in the agricultural sector.
He said this includes implementing various biodiversity programs involving timbers, bakau woods, palm oil, rubber and wide sea, which have good potentials and give better returns to them.
Rahim hoped farmers would commercialize their paddy planting which could provide them with good returns.
Present at the function were Assistant Ministers of Agriculture and Foods Industry, Datuk Bobbey Suan and Datuk Japlin Akira, Liawan Assemblyman Datuk Haji Sairin Karno, Bingkor Assemblyman Justin Guka, Agriculture and Foods Industry Permanent Secretary Datuk Gregory Juatol, State Agriculture Department Director MC Ismail Salam and District Officer Haji Zulkifli Nasir.