SABAH is one of four states selected by Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) to develop the Large-Scale Smart Paddy Field (SBB) programme as a commitment to formulating a strategic direction to strengthen the country’s paddy and rice industry.
In a statement, Bernas said the potential paddy areas that have been identified for developing the programme are Kampung Kulambai, Kota Belud, Sabah; Batang Lupar in Sarawak; Sungai Batu Pahat (Perlis) and Setiu (Terengganu).
“The Smart SBB programme is in line with the government’s goal of increasing the country’s rice self-sufficiency rate to 75%, and it began with a memorandum of understanding signed between Bernas and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (Mafi) at the beginning of the year.
“It is one of Mafi’s initiatives to consolidate paddy land to create a centralised plantation management system. This centralised system is seen to be able to optimise the use of existing resources as well as increase the efficiency of cultivation activities and padi production in the country.
“As a company with extensive experience and a strong network in the industry, Bernas is targeting areas with low productivity by projecting revenue spikes of between 40% and 60% per season,” it said.
According to Bernas, Smart SBB is a collaborative programme between Bernas and other agencies such as the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Sabah Agriculture Department, Area Farmers Organisation and Integrated Agricultural Development Area.
In addition, Bernas is implementing Smart SBB with Bumiputera rice millers such as in the programme between Bernas and Beras Dibuk Mill in Perlis and currently, the infrastructure rehabilitation and land works and paddy cultivation are being actively carried out in the identified areas.
The statement said that Bernas needed holistic thoroughness, including developing paddy land that had been left idle for over 10 years, such as in Kampung Kulambai and areas outside the rice bowls such as Sungai Batu Pahat.
Bernas will work with some 200 farmers who will also be exposed to good agricultural techniques and practices to manage large padi fields, as well as mechanisation and the latest technology that can facilitate farm work to create a more organised agricultural system.
“This can save the planting cost as a whole, besides helping farmers get a good harvest. The involvement of farmers is the most important element in this programme which as shown encouraging numbers,” it further said in the statement.
According to Bernas, the farmers are very committed and disciplined in following the farm work schedule set to get better yields and quality of paddy.
Bernas will also always provide support to farmers through various knowledge-sharing platforms for their success and plans to further expand the SBB Smart programme to other rice varieties such as fragrant rice in the future.