Monday, February 14, 2011

Gahat Mawang Rice

The 80,000 hill padi planters in Sarawak will soon have the opportunity to go commercial and earn better income following a revolutionary research project to increase crop production volume with the introduction of a new yield called Gahat Mawang.

Long considered a traditional and subsistence farming among the state’s rural community, the input from the project undertaken by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) may also put a stop to shifting cultivation practice.

Mardi conducted the research at Kampung Gahat Mawang, Tebedu involving 27 participants and Kampung Sepadah, Bau (four participants) since September 2009, and production increased 24 per cent and 42 per cent respectively last year.

Even before the project reaches its end this Aug 31, Mardi researchers are already optimistic of the outcome, and even suggested that the rice be marketed as ‘Gahat Mawang Rice’ as signature product of the area.

Science, Technology and Innovation Deputy Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof, who made a working visit to the 10.8-hectare project site at Gahat Mawang yesterday, said hill padi comprised 49 per cent of the padi planted areas in the state.

He said RM1.3 million was allocated to Mardi, which is an agency under the ministry, to conduct the research in collaboration with the state’s Department of Agriculture.

“There are a lot of hill padi planted in Sabah and Sarawak, but very little research is done on this crop.

“Through this research, we can now enable the smallholders to increase the yield from their farms. If they produce more than they need for subsistence, they can sell and improve their income,” he said when meeting the villagers.

He also said the project was in line with the economic transformation programme to achieve high-income economy.

“The prime minister wants every Malaysian to earn better income. Our chief minister also wants the same. The transformation programme of the government is not empty talk, because we are serious in helping everyone, from the big corporations to the smallholders,” he said.

Later, at a press conference, Fadillah, who is also his ministry’s task force chairman for food security, said he welcomed any plans for centralised hill padi farming in the state.

Asked if there would be more funds for similar projects in the state, he said the ministry would make the request for allocations under the current Malaysia plan.

“We will extend the project to areas in Sri Aman, Kapit and Sarikei soon,” he said, adding that the project requirements differed from one area to another based on the soil conditions.

The project leader Dr Sariam Othman, meanwhile, said the participants were taught new technology and practices which contributed to better management of their farms.

She said the technologies were introduced in areas such as planting, fertiliser, weed killing and eradication of plant disease and pests.

At the end of the project on Aug 31, we will make our analysis including the costing involved (so that the farmers do not have to spend so much),” she said.

A political secretary to the chief minister John David Nyauh, Mardi deputy director-general Datuk Dr Sharif Haron and Penghulu Robert Jawas were among those present.

A RM10,000 padi thresher was also presented to Gahat Mawang.

Source: BP


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