KOTA KINABALU: An area of 11,000ha in Dent Peninsula, Lahad Datu has been earmarked for padi planting development in an effort to boost Sabah’s self-sufficiency level (SSL) on rice production.
Sabah Assistant Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Hendrus Anding said the ministry had discussed the project with Felda which had agreed in principle.
“As a start, the Sabah Agriculture Department will carry out a trial plot at the end of this year.
“If the project materialises, the rice production will be around 85,800 to 114,400 tonnes.
“Based on the estimate of six to eight tonnes per ha of padi harvested in one season and planted twice a year, it will see the SSL increased by 23% to 31%,” he said.
Hendrus was responding to a question by Bongawan assemblyman Dr Daud Yusof on the government’s plan to increase padi production in Sabah to reduce dependency on import, as well as the size of current padi plots.
As of 2020, Sabah is only at 22.8% of the SSL and the state has targeted to increase the level to 60% by 2030.
Hendrus added that the planted padi area at present was at 24,013ha involving 20 districts including Kota Belud, Kota Marudu, Keningau, Tambunan, Pitas, Kuala Penyu and Ranau.
“The ministry plans to increase the productivity at existing plots, upgrade the drainage and irrigation, as well as increase the size of padi fields.
“So by 2030, if all of these strategies are successfully executed, it will contribute to 224,053 tonnes of rice which translates to 60.88% SSL,” he said.
As an additional strategy, the ministry had proposed that oil palm plantations of over
5,000ha accommodate 1% of its plot for food production like padi, coconuts, fruits, grains or farming/fishing, he added.
On an additional question by Daud if the government plans to cultivate other crops in the abandoned padi fields like corn or onions, Hendrus said they were still encouraging these lands to be rehabilitated for padi planting.