Govt sets SSL target for rice output at 75% by 2025

The raise is to safeguard the country’s food security, while reducing its dependency on imported foods, says minister

pic by BERNAMA

THE Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry (MAFI) is raising Malaysia’s self-sufficient level (SSL) target for rice production to 75% by 2025, an objective which will be outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee said this is to safeguard the country’s food security, while reducing its dependency on imported foods.

“MAFI’s main agenda is transformation and modernisation of the agriculture industry, with one of its objectives being to raise the SSL as well as increase the industry revenue.

“For the 12MP in the next five years, MAFI has identified several directions which will focus on rice production, ruminants, agriculture and fisheries,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He was responding to a query by Datuk Mohd Salim Sharif (Barisan Nasional-Jempol) on the government’s direction to transform the country’s agricultural sector with regard to the SSL for food production.

The target is a step-up from the current goal of 73% as stated in the 12MP’s strategy paper for the domestic paddy industry.

In 2008, the government declared 17 varieties of paddy seeds where 15 were produced by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, while the other two varieties were produced by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Currently, the production of recognised paddy seeds through nine government-approved producers stood at 74,000 tonnes for each season, while the requirement of paddy farmers is 72,000 tonnes.

Kiandee said in the 12MP — the economic guidance for Malaysia which will last until 2025 — MAFI identified several directions and initiatives which focus on the paddy industry, agriculture, ruminants and fisheries.

Among the initiatives are optimise land usage, increase adoption of modern technological application, widen the quality of paddy seeds and establish high-value vegetable and fruit commodities for domestic usage and export.

The ministry also planned to increase the ruminant and dairy production through the establishment of the National Ruminant Board.

“The aspirations will be supported by technology enhancement within the industry, financial assistance and increase of local farmers, of which will strengthen the agrofood sector to raise Malaysia’s food dependency on local production.

“The Cabinet has approved the establishment of the National Ruminant Board, which is currently in the developing stage and is expected to guide the increase of the ruminant and dairy production,” Kiandee said.

He added that in line with the aspirations, the ministry targets to achieve a 70% SSL for local vegetable production and 50% for the ruminant industry in the next five years.

Presently, Malaysia’s SSL for ruminants, which included beef and mutton, is at 23%, while the local production stood at 4.54 tillion tonnes.

During the tabling of Budget 2021, the government announced a RM4.79 billion allocation for MAFI, involving a management expenditure of RM3.28 billion and development expenditure of RM1.51 billion.