Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) has chosen Sabah as one of four states to develop the Large-Scale SMART Paddy Field (SBB) programme as part of its commitment to developing a strategic direction to boost the country's paddy and rice industries.
Bernas stated in a statement that suitable paddy areas for building the SMART SBB programme are in Kampung Kulambai, Kota Belud, Sabah; Batang Lupar in Sarawak; Sungai Batu Pahat in Perlis; and Setiu in Terengganu.
Bernas continued, “The SMART SBB programme is in line with the Government’s goal of increasing the country’s rice self-sufficiency rate to 75 per cent, and it began with a memorandum of understanding signed between Bernas and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (Mafi) at the beginning of the year.”
“It is one of Mafi’s initiatives to consolidate paddy land to create a centralised plantation management system. This centralised system is seen to be able to optimise the use of existing resources as well as increase the efficiency of cultivation activities and padi production in the country.
“As a company with extensive experience and a strong network in the industry, Bernas is targeting areas with low productivity by projecting revenue spikes of between 40 and 60 per cent per season.”
SMART SBB is a collaboration between Bernas and other organisations such as the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Sabah Agriculture Department, Area Farmers Organization, and Integrated Agricultural Development Area, according to Bernas.
Furthermore, Bernas is implementing SMART SBB with Bumiputera rice millers, such as in the Bernas and Beras Dibuk mill in Perlis, and infrastructure repair, land works, and paddy planting are now ongoing in the identified areas.
Bernas will work with nearly 200 farmers, who will be exposed to good agricultural techniques and practises for managing large padi fields, as well as mechanisation and cutting-edge technology that can help farmers work more efficiently and effectively, resulting in a more organised agricultural system.