Mechanisms being put in place to improve seed paddy production – Min. Mustapha

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During a meeting with farmers from Burma Housing Scheme and other surrounding areas earlier today, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha announced that systems are being put in place to satisfy farmers’ demands for seed paddy in the region.

Minister Mustapha made the disclosure while engaging farmers during the commissioning of the new office building for the Mahaica/Abary Rice Development Scheme (MARDS) in Burma, Mahaicony.

Some $14 million was expended by MARDS to execute rehabilitation works to its existing office and procure a new Nissan truck that will be used to improve services offered by the agency.

During the meeting, one farmer present told the minister that there was need for an upgraded seed facility to service the rice farmers in the region as the current facility is not always able to satisfy the farmers’ demands.

Farmers also raised concerns about the housing development programme that is ongoing in the area, noting that, once developed, persons residing in the new housing area may have issues with some of the systems used by farmers during rice cultivation.

A farmer raising an issue during the meeting (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture)

While responding to the issues raised, Minister Mustapha told the farmer that a mechanism will soon be in place to address those issues.

“Region Five has the capacity to produce approximately 105,000 acres of rice. I am optimistic that most, if not all, of the fields in the region will be cultivated in the next crop. I want to assure you; we are in the process of setting up a system in Region Five to bring the seed paddy production capacity to about 65,000 bags per crop. As it stands now, we are getting about 30,000 bags. For the next crop, I want to assure you, that this region will produce all the seed paddy for the farmers. With the system that we are putting in place, MMA alone will be able to produce 50,000 bags of seed paddy next crop,” the minister said.

A section of those in attendence at the meeting (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture)

He also said farmers who were promised seed paddy will receive it. While stating that there was a reported instance where a farmer who benefited from seed paddy did not use it for its intended purpose, the minister said that systems will now be in place to ensure farmers do not take advantage of the system.

“We’ll put systems in place to ensure farmers that need seed paddy receive it. All the commitments that were made for seed paddy, those farmers will receive it. Our officers will also ensure those farmers who receive the seed paddy use it for its intended purpose. Only yesterday we received reports that someone collected seed paddy and was selling it to other farmers. We have to put a system in place to deal with this. So, the same committee managing the fertilizer distribution will manage this programme because while some farmers might have a genuine need, other persons are requesting assistance with the intent to smart the system,” he noted.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha (center) while addressing farmers during the meeting (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture)

Minister Mustapha also told the farmers that the government is working aggressively to address the high cost of fertilizer. He explained that the gas-to-shore project will allow for the production of fertilizer locally and that the government is still engaging its bilateral partners to source fertilizer at a cheaper cost. (Ministry of Agriculture press release)

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