Govt urged to explore dolomite use in agriculture amid rising fertiliser prices

by AZREEN HANI / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE government should look into the usage of dolomite in the agriculture sector to curb the rising cost of fertiliser as well as bran for livestock.

Perlis Dolomite Industries Sdn Bhd MD Yong Norita Ahmad (picture) told The Malaysian Reserve that there is various potential dolomite that could help address the issue of food security that is threatening the country at the moment.

Dolomite, a type of limestone, provides valuable nutrients to plants and helps change the pH of the soil by raising it to match the plants’ needs.

In Perlis, where her factory is located, the dolomite has the highest percentage of magnesium content which is about 22%. The value of calcium meanwhile, is between 30% to 34%. 

These macronutrients are vital for plants to thrive.

“The hardest challenge is to get our local farmers to switch from using the chemical-based fertiliser to dolomite, despite it being cost-effective and safer,” she added.

“Look, if we manage to improve the soil of our paddy field and also our plants, imagine how much we could save and secure our food supply. My question is why is there no concerted effort to promote this mineral for our sector?”

Being the only Bumiputera company that is involved in the mining of dolomite, Yong Norita said that the government should look into the mineral’s benefits, especially its ability to treat and rejuvenate the affected soils and plants.

“Instead of letting the untreated soil to waste, dolomite will be able to treat and restore its acidity level,” she explained. 

The testimonials from her clients, as evidenced on the firm’s website, Yong Norita said, speaks volume of the dolomite benefits.

“I urge the government to look into utilising dolomite in the agriculture sector and stop relying on chemical-based fertilisers,” she added.

Early this month, former Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub called the government to provide fertiliser subsidies to farmers who are facing production cost issues due to rising prices of fertiliser.

“The government should provide a cash subsidy of RM100 per tonne of agricultural produce to every farmer. This can help them offset the price of fertilisers, which has increased from RM120 to around RM200,” Salahuddin has said.

The Russia-Ukraine war has caused a drop in fertiliser supply, as Ukraine is one of the world’s fertiliser producers.

Meanwhile, Yong Norita added that Perlis Dolomite Industries will set up a factory to produce supplementary food for ruminants and poultry-based on dolomite itself.

“This is what the magic mineral can do, and the government should tap into its potential,” the 53-year-old entrepreneur said.