High prices of oil has indirectly taken a toll the productivity of padi planters in remote Sarawak. Cost of weedicide (herbicides or weeds killer) and fertilizers has skyrocketed and has greatly burdened those poor farmers.
Those poor farmers sustained their living by planting padi and other crops thus they lack cash unless they can sell their produce.
It has become uneconomical for them to plant padi if the cost of those herbicides and fertilizers are not reduced by the government. Planting padi has thus becoming an expensive affairs.
On government's part, giving fuel subsidy rebate to motorist is unfair since the that same benefits are not channeled to the poor farmers. This is the case of poor become poorer.
Image source: adventureworldtravel.com
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Costly weedicide takes its toll on padi planters
By Mary Francis
MIRI: Drastic upsurge in the price of weedicide of late is believed to be forcing padi planters in the state to substantially reduce the size of their farms or totally abandon the activity.
Many claim it is no longer economical to pursue the venture as they could hardly make any profit from it while some say they may continue planting the crop but only for their own consumption.
The residents of Sungai Liam Atas in Bakong, Baram, about 35 kilometres from here are an example of padi planters who are pressured by the situation to leave the activity which they had diligently carried on for generations.
And as an alternative they may resort to planting oil palm or tapping rubber, said a farmer Inggok Unya of Chabu Makum longhouse in the area.
“The price of weed killers has increased tremendously and the price is beyond our financial means.
“Unless the price is reviewed, we have no choice but to forego our padi farms for good and look at other things for survival,” she said.
When asked, Inggok, in a recent interview with The Borneo Post at her longhouse, said they needed weedicide to eliminate weeds in their farm before planting padi.
According to her, most villagers in Sungai Liam planted wet padi which is more convenient and easier to plant.
In the past when weedicide was still cheap, Inggok and her family planted vast areas with padi and they even sold their produce to traders.
During each harvesting season, the family bagged about 60 sacks of rice.
However, following the price hike in weedicide, she said they merely planted the crop for their own consumption and managed to get only about 30 sacks.
Except for those who depended solely on rice for their income, the others would resort to planting oil palm or other crops, believed Inggok, whose husband is working offshore with an oil and gas company.
Inggok’s mother, Kumu Biong, who was also present during the interview, said as the price of weedicide increased, the farmers had no alternative but to increase the price of the commodity.
Currently the ‘kampung rice’ is sold at RM15 per gantang compared to RM10 per gantang prior to the inflation.
“We are blamed for increasing the price. The customers grumble over the price hike,” she said, adding that they did not see the dilemma they were in.
She said a brand which used to cost between RM55 and RM57 (five litres) in the past now costs more than RM90.