The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry (MAFI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with eleven companies for the implementation of the Large-Scale Smart Field Project (SMART SBB).
Speaking at the signing of the MOU, MAFI Minister, Ronald Kiandee said that the eleven companies will collaborate to develop paddy cultivation with a target of 150,000 hectares per season in the first phase through implementations like contract farming and renting.
MAFI has considered some of the weaknesses that existed in previous large-scale programmes and the Ministry has identified several measures in empowering the industry.
The Director General of the Rice Regulatory Division, Azman Bin Mahmood said that one of the weaknesses of the previous mega programme is the financial burden that comes with the programme especially in the form of subsidies for agricultural inputs and outputs.
“The involvement of middlemen in the value chain of the paddy and rice industry which caused the quality of rice cultivation to decline is also the weakness of the previous project,” he added.
“It involves the investment of the industry itself through the eleven companies which would directly reduce Putrajaya’s financial liabilities in terms of subsidised agricultural input long-term. This would also be a new approach in the industry through the concept of modern agriculture such as the implementation of land profile systems and smart agriculture,” Ronald commented.
Additionally, the SMART SBB programme will help achieve the National Rice Self Sufficient Level (SSL) target that has been set during the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (12MP) by 75 percent.
MAFI assured that the programme will open opportunities for companies to play a role at any level of the value chain of the paddy and rice industry after the Covid-19 outbreak.
“With SMART SBB, farmers can carry less of the risks and cost of paddy cultivation thus improving the income margin of the farmers,” he concluded.