KUALA LUMPUR: A network of food producers, composed of farmers and fishermen, submitted a memorandum of demands calling on the government to improve their livelihoods by halting actions that jeopardise food production.
At the Parliament building, the group said despite its individual factions having approached the authorities in the past, their calls for comprehensive and sustainable policies had yet to be answered.
Abdul Rashid Yob, a representative of PeSawah, said the government should switch rice production subsidies to be in the form of cash, saying current subsidies were only given to selected companies tasked with distributing the aid to farmers.
“But the service of these companies responsible for distributing fertiliser, seeds and other inputs to farmers has been unsatisfactory,” he said, adding that when supplies were successfully handed out, they were of low quality.
He also called for paddy price incentives to be raised to RM0.80 per kilogramme, and for a subsistence allowance to be provided while farmers waited for the profits from their harvests.
Speaking on behalf of cattle farmers, R Gandi implored the authorities to stop the eviction of farmers from Sime Darby plantations.
“Over the past four years, they (Sime Darby) have sought to evict cattle farmers who use the plantations as grazing areas for their livestock.”
Gandi said the government should arrange a dialogue between Sime Darby and farmers to ascertain the reasons for eviction and enact an agreement between both parties with clear mechanisms for handling non-compliance.
As 75% of Peninsular Malaysia’s vegetables were grown on unused government land, Tan, a vegetable farmer from Perak, asked that these areas be maintained for food production.
He said despite taking up only 4% of the national agricultural land, many farmers, whose families had been growing vegetables in those areas since before the second world war, faced eviction.
“Currently, there are 12 groups of farmers in the Kinta and Batang Padang districts being evicted,” Tan said.
The memorandum was received by Muhammad Arif Ya’kub, a special officer in the prime minister’s department.
Also present to receive the memorandum was former deputy agriculture and agro-based minister Sim Tze Tzin and Amanah vice-president Mahfuz Omar.–FMT