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A-G’s Report: Rice output targets not met, 50% shortfall in seed production

PETALING JAYA: The targets for rice production output and rice productivity per hectare have not been achieved under the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry’s Management of Rice Cultivation Programme, the Auditor-General’s Report 2022 revealed.

The report also noted that rice production self-sufficiency and farmers’ income targets had not been achieved.

“Rice seed production by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) for the period 2019 to 2022, amounting to 258.14 tonnes, cannot meet the required demand of 507.52 tonnes.

“Insufficient production of rice seeds will lead to the use of seeds that are not recognised by the Agriculture Department,” the reported noted.

It also pointed out that of the rice granary areas, only the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) had been gazetted as a rice-planting area.

Additionally, the report concluded that the programme management was unsatisfactory and in need of improvement in terms of land, rice seed, fertiliser and machinery management as well as allocation control.

The report also noted that the programme incurred RM660.14mil in losses, the biggest amount of public fund wastage in this series of audits.

It pointed out that the remaining allocation accumulated in the Farmers’ Organisation Authority amounting to RM448.87mil was not spent optimally to help the target groups reduce the cost of rice production.

As such, it said the ministry could not use the remaining allocation to implement other programmes to reduce production costs and benefit farmers.

According to the report, three agencies had yet to return remaining allocations under the entry points projects (EPP) 11 programme amounting to RM26.77mil, even though the programme ended in 2020.

These are the Kemubu Agricultural Development Authority (RM10.22mil), Maffi Sabah (RM7.28mil) and the Sarawak Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Ministry (RM9.27mil).

The report noted that the selling price of rice seeds to farmers exceeded the permissible control price.

As such, farmers had to bear the cost of higher rice production, it added.

There was also a delay in the distribution of fertilisers to the farmers with some receiving supplies past the effective period, affecting its usage during the rice growing season.

An exemption was also given to the National Farmers Organisation (Nafas) for the delay in the supply of fertiliser for 2016 to 2019, amounting to RM211.27mil.

This delay became a recurring issue every year because no action was taken against defaulting suppliers, the report pointed out.

It added that a lack of machinery had also caused farmers to rely on private service providers as only 589 (66%) of the 892 units of agricultural machinery could be operated, the report added.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/11/22/a-g039s-report-rice-output-targets-not-met-50-shortfall-in-seed-production QR Code

Published Date: November 23, 2023

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