Monday, September 22

Good news to Dayak farmers

Effective next year, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry will give incentives to some 60,000 hill paddy farmers in Sarawak and 3,000 from Sabah so that they will be able to increase their crop yields. The incentives will be in the form of 25 kg of fertilizers, four litres of pesticide a month, besides spraying kits and chainsaws.

The move by the federal government as announced by the deputy minister of agriculture and agro-based industry, Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim, should be welcomed as it would help to ease the burden of the farmers due to high costs of fertilizers and pesticides and at the same time to encourage the farmers to increase their yields in view of the government’s policy towards self-sufficiency in rice production.

No doubt there are bound to be problems in identifying the genuine farmers who have two to three acres of paddy plots. Therefore, in order to ensure a foolproof delivery system, the ministry needs to have at least a temporary office at every division’s capital set up for the purpose.

As the bulk of the 60,000 farmers are Dayaks, it may be a good idea, if the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) and the Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) can assist in this to ensure that the majority of farmers will benefit from these incentives. The role of the longhouse security and development committees (JKKK) should also be enlisted.

In the past when incentives were made available to rural farmers, only a small number of them benefited. The fault partly was due to lack of publicity and ignorance on the part of the farmers on the mechanism to apply and partly it was also due to some State officers who were directed to implement “pilih mata” (discriminatory) approach. For example, when farmers applied they were asked of their political leaning. If they were supporters of BN, their requests would be entertained immediately and if they were pro-Opposition (PBDS at that time) they would be sidelined.

Hopefully this “pilih mata” system is a thing of the past. After all as citizens, and under the Law, they are supposed to have, may be not equal rights, but at least some rights. But more importantly, when farmers, whether they are BN or Opposition supporters, have better harvests, it is also the country and her citizens who will benefit.

See page 3 of The Borneo Post today regarding the news item.

1 comment:

NEIL said...

I think it will be a failure.The moment they get the fertilizer they will use it on other things besides padi or some will sell it to get easy cash.For the chainsaw,they will start felling trees and sell the timber which is more profitable than planting padi.The best way is to educate them first and then ask them to pay a small sum to buy these things to show they are really interested to be a padi farmer.