TANJONG KARANG, 11 Jan: Paddy farmers at Sawah Sempadan here are disappointed when the price of paddy seeds which were supplied to them have been claimed to be expensive and of poor quality.
Paddy farmer Ahmad Mukti, 60, claims that the price of type CL2 paddy seeds or known to farmers as ‘invincible seeds’ (benih kebal), costs RM115 for 20 kilogrammes (kg) including expensive pesticides .
Such prices are not profitable to farmers because the selling price of paddy has yet to increase.
He claimed that the factory price for 20kg of type CL2 paddy seeds is only RM28.
This means that the price of 30 millilitre (ml) of quality pesticides included in the package of paddy seeds, at RM87, is too expensive.
“One plot of paddy field with an area of three acres requires eight bags of 20kg seeds and if the overall cost of rice cultivation is calculated, it is too expensive and it completely does not profit paddy farmers,” said Ahmad, who lives in Block C, Sawah Sempadan.
Ahmad said that the paddy seeds were not too expensive in the past as the price was monitored by the Ministry of Agriculture, however because of reasons such as delays in receiving the paddy seeds by farmers has resulted in the privatisation of paddy seeds to certain companies.
Previously, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry allegedly provided the paddy seed subsidy processing quota of 80,000 metric tonnes per year to Syarikat Seri Merbok Sdn Bhd, which is claimed to be owned by Datuk Rais Zainuddin, a former Negeri Sembilan Exco member and Syarikat Haji Mohd Nor, which allegedly has close ties with minister, Datuk Seri Noh Omar.
In the meantime, the Permatang district Coordinator, Mohd Yahya Mat Sahri said that the prices regarding this paddy seeds should be fully regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and not to take the easy way of privatising it and eventually burdening farmers with a variety of problems.
Meanwhile, the Head of Block T1 Sawah Sempadan, Mohd Faizal Sali, 32, said that the selling price of paddy is still low at RM1250 per tonne and farmers will have to suffer losses if the seeds supplied are poor in quality and are not able to fight off diseases and pests.
“The price of paddy seeds are expensive, it is not guaranteed that all these seeds will grow and farmers will have to burden to cost of buying pesticides to curb the problem of pests such as rats and snails that feed on paddy seeds,” he added.
Another paddy farmer Sahril Salimon, 28, asks for the price of paddy seeds to be further reduced to cover the cost of rice cultivation, which is on the rise.
Sahril claimed that the retail prices of paddy seeds should be monitored because there are a handful of people who are hiking up the prices to their fancy and farmers have the right to know the real price of paddy seeds produced by Seri Merbok Sdn Bhd.