Friday, March 22, 2013

Where's the promised 'rice bowl' state, Musa?

The last five years have seen huge areas in Kota Belud that were traditionally planted with padi left abandoned and not rehabilitated.

KOTA BELUD, March 21, 2013: It's been five years since the government promised to turn Kota Belud into the "rice bowl" of Sabah, but until now there's been no change in the 'size' and 'output' of the padi fields in area and to top this the district's quota of subsidised rice has also been withdrawn.

Posing several questions, Sabah Progressive Peoples Party (SAPP) supreme council member Peter Marajin asked: "Where is the promise made five years ago? Why was the quota withdrawn?".

Marajin claimed the Musa Aman-led state government had promised to increase padi output from 3.5 tonnes to 10 tonnes per hectare, and asked "have they achieved it?"

Marajin said now that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had laid bare his achievements over the past five years, it was essential that the state BN do the same.

"Just as Najib laid out in public his achievements yesterday, we call upon the BN leaders in Kota Belud to show us what they achieved in the last five years, since the last general election in 2008.

"We are focused and just want to know about the "rice bowl project". Please outline your report card on how you spent taxpayers money and the real padi output increase or output of other agricultural produce in the district," Marajin said, daring the leadership in the district to come clean on the budgets and outputs.

Marajin also said he had received reports that the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry had last year withdrawn from a Kota Belud rice supplier, his quota of subsidised rice to the tune of 100 metric tonne a month.

"Up to today, the industry claimed, the withdrawn rice quota for Kota Belud has not been given or passed on to other suppliers. That means we are short of subsidised rice.

"We would like to know if this is the reason why supply of subsidised rice Beras Nasional in the district has been inadequate lately," he asked.

He said if the rumoured withdrawal of subsidised rice quota was untrue, then why did the ministry issue such quotas for the district?

Leaders must explain

Marajin also claimed that nothing had been done to help padi farmers rehabilitate their padi fields.

He said there were still many areas not irrigated after five year. He cited as an example the huge area in Kelawat plains.

"The last five years has seen huge areas that were traditionally planted with padi in Kota Belud abandoned and not rehabilitated.

"The people would love to hear Barisan Nasional leaders explain how this five years had passed by ..." Marajin said.

He added that certain BN leaders had only started to realise 'the issues' at the end their five-year term.

"We have BN leaders who did not care to do something positive even though they passed by those abandoned padi fields almost every week for the last five years.

"And they have the audacity to hoodwink us by saying they were turning our district into "rice bowl" of Sabah," he said.

Luke Rintod

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