Monday, June 06, 2011

Second rebuttal to Lim Kit Siang over DAM issue. Will he ever understand?

I normally respond to comments about my articles posted on this blog in the comments' section. But this time I am making an exception. I am going to answer one comment which I think worthy front page in my blog.
Why? Since this particular comment was posted by Lim Kit Siang on his blog, I consider he subscribes to the points raised by this comentator. Thus it is my duty to write my second rebuttal of Lim Kit Siang's understanding about the proposed dam in Kota Belud, which was superficially gathered only from his half a day visit to my constituency.
A commentator called HABIB RAK wrote (for better understanding of the issue, read my earlier article and incessant tweets by Lim Kit Siang on the subject matter):
"Based on the above report, Yield (ton/hectare) for Australia is 8.7, Japan 6.4, China 6.3, Vietnam 4.7 and Indonesia 4.6. For Malaysia it is 3.3 only. The report also indicates that for our self sufficiency, our yield needs to be improved to 5.0. So, is there another way to meet the key objective? The answer is a resounding YES. All we need to do to our existing acreage is to improve the Yield factor from 3.3 to 5.0 tons per hectare. If Australia, Japan and China can do it, so can we. Even Vietnam and Indonesia is closer to 5.0. Further, it is reported that some areas in Malaysia can even get up to 10ton per hectare!... We are already producing about 65% of our need now. Thus the requirement is how to get the remaining 35% without being dependant on external parties (other countries)... The key objective can be met by simply improving the yield factor by 51.4% from 3.3 to 5.0. This alone will more than cover the 35% shortfall."
I can sum up what HABIB RAK is trying to say this way, that in order to have self sufficiency in rice, just simply increase production yields in existing paddy areas. No need dams. Simply? I wish it was that simple. Here is the reason.
It is true that yield (ton/hectare) for Australia is 8.7, Japan 6.4, China 6.3, Vietnam 4.7, Indonesia 4.6 and Malaysia 3.3, based on FAO report.  This information is based on the average yield for the whole country. For Malaysia, the production yield between planting areas differ from one another.
Major granary areas like like Muda Agricultural Development Area (MADA)  and Lembaga Kemajuan Pertanian Kemubu (KADA) have already achieving 5 ton/hectare to 6 ton/hectare which is comparable to Japan's and China's. Besides that, in Projek Barat Laut Selangor (PBLS), the yield is reaching 10 ton/hectare. However, our national paddy production yield average has been dragged down by low yield areas namely in Sabah and Sarawak!
So how much more can we squeeze out from MADA and KADA? 
Currently under the Economic Transfromation Program (ETP), the government has further targeted to increase the paddy production yield in MADA and KADA from 6 ton/hectare to 8 ton/hectare which is about the same as Australia's. With the land factor remains the same if not decreasing, it is unlikely for the yield to go beyond 8 ton/hectare in those areas. The more input/investment we put in, after certain point,  it will it will not give higher output ( I am sure HABIB RAK and Lim Kit Siang know the meaning of “law of diminishing returns”). Thus, future increases in production yield in MADA and KADA will not be able to replace the quantity imported by Malaysia.  Whether we like it or not, other existing granary areas like Kota Belud in Sabah and Batang Lupar in Sarawak have to pick up the remaining slack.
Another point to consider is Malaysia's increasing population. Malaysia needs to open up new lands for paddy cultivation. MADA and KADA have reached almost saturated point in terms of rice production yield and land areas and they cannot forever supply the increasing needs of Malaysians in the future.
That is why, for Kota Belud, the government must increase its unproductive rice production yield from approximately 2 tons per hectare to at least 4 tons per hectare as a start, targeting 10 tons per hectare (or 4 tons per acre) in the future once all infrastructures are up. Only  3,929 hectares of the total paddy area in Kota Belud have good irrigation and drainage infrastructure. That is the reason for the urgent need to upgrade the infrasructure and find new sources of water ie the planned dam. 
So far, government has spent RM150mil starting in 2009. That amount is for new drainage system, farm roads, bridges, upgrades of irrigation system etc. Some of the projects are still on-going, spanning many phases over several years. I am sure if he visited Kota Belud, HABIB RAK will be pleasantly surprised to see the hectic activities in Kota Belud's paddy fields. My only advice is dont spend only half a day and talk to a handful of people like someone we know. Your judgement may be clouded.
Oh yes, before I forget. The other main objective of the dam is to boost the income of the poor farmers in Kota Belud. With the current low production yield of majority of the farmers in Kota Belud, it is very difficult for them to sustain in the industry. So, how in the world by putting in more resources to increase yields in MADA and KADA would actually help to increase Kota Belud's farmers?
I really hope Lim Kit Siang will put this second rebuttal on his blog. Will he dare to tell the truth about the proposed dam in Kota Belud? Is it wishful thinking on my part? We will see.

3 comments:

  1. Dear YB, you are right when you said paddy fields need good irrigation system but you miss out the important part, the attitude of the farmers and also fertilizer. Attitude means some farmers practise the 3T(Tanam, Tabur, Tuai). Goverment subsidies given to them sold to others, the grass is higher than the paddy due to no application of racun rumput and this will also affect the yield. Selangor planters could get 10-12 tons/Ha. Some used the hybrid benih and their input is very expensive, up to rm6k/Ha. Even the planters from Langkap,Perak obtain around 8-10tons/Ha.
    For agriculture, fertilizers play a very important role. If you don't mind, I would like to introduce our biological fertilizer to you. All our raw materials imported from europe, our malaysian professor graduate from Taiwan. We have a trial plot in Kangar,Perlis which belongs to a MADA officer. First season harvest around 10 tons/Ha. Second season, the paddy field was flooded and the plant was underwater for 11 days but we still get around 7tons/Ha. The plot beside ours only managed less than 2tons. We have trial plots in Binja, Indonesia and our result shows minimum 8.65tons/Ha and maximum 10.4tons/Ha. Our plot in Hubei, China shows 8-11.5tons/Ha. At the moment, we are working hand in hand with Bernas Rakan Ladang. For your info, our fertilizer cost less than rm300 per Hectre. We also supply to SLDB for their palm oil plantation in Keningau and Sandakan.
    If YB is interested, pls arrange a few trial plots and we shall provide the fertilizer foc for 2 seasons trial. YB can email me at rayharcw@gmail.com.
    Thank you.

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  2. Hi YB-pls improve and upgrade road in Kg melangkap-tar it up pls and based on my in-laws it has not being upgraded since decades ago-kg bayayat has a tar raod why not kg. melangkap-pls do something YB.

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  3. Yb Rahman,

    I had opined that our existing acerage in Malaysia can be used to fully meet our rice security consideration (i.e to overcome the 35% shortage) provided our Yield (Mt/hectare) can be increased to 5.0. The 5.0 yield factor is backed by research materials that you had referenced in your report.

    In your rebuttal to my June 4, 2011feedback, you have clearly acknowledged this point albeit you put it as "I wish it was that simple. Here is the reason".

    You said the current yield average of 3.3mt per hectare is for the whole country and production yield differs based on location. In summary, you had alluded to point out that production locations in Peninsular Malaysia(PM) are already yielding at 5.0 or higher and has little room for additional yield. The national average, however, drops to 3.3 due to the low yeilds in East Malaysia(EM) and Kota Belud being one. I quote "However, our national paddy production yield average has been dragged down by low yield areas namely in Sabah and Sarawak!"

    I wish to draw your attention to flaws in your yield numbers that you have used to rebut. To better explain my point, I had asked you several times for acerage split between PM and Sabah/Sarawak. Unfortunately, it was not forthcoming and so I had used an assumption of 80/20 split which will clearly illustrate the point and can be refined with actual number if need be.

    First, since our national average yield has been establised at 3.3mt per hectare,I have shown it as the Base Case

    Base Case

    Acerage Split

    Yield Per Hectare

    Pen Msia

    80%

    3.3

    2.6

    Sbh/Srwk

    20%

    3.3

    0.7

    Avg Yield

    3.3

    The contribution towards the average yield by PM is 2.6 and EM is 0.7, assuming the yield is uniform in PM and EM.

    Now, if I take what you have said about PM's yield hovering at around 5.0 and above, then the Base Case will look like Case 2.

    Case 2

    Acerage Split

    Yield Per Hectare

    Pen Msia

    80%

    5.0

    4.0



    Sbh/Srwk

    20%

    (3.3)

    (0.7)

    Avg Yield

    3.3

    You can immediately see the flaw. To get a national average of 3.3 when PM is 5.0, then EM has to be negative (which cannot be true).



    You can model the formula to play around with the acreage split and yield contribution (which I did) and the message will be clear that we have still a long way to go in reaching average yields of 5.0 and above for PM.

    What the above clearly indicates is that, yield improvement opportunity is still very much available as a whole. We must embark on yield improvement stratergy on existing acreage before other major options.

    Another key consideration that is logical and prudent is, if the yield from EM is very low, it also means that the skill set and methodology of the people who are managing the fields needs special attention to help improve yields. They would need hand-holding assistance and guidance to get them up the skill scale.

    We must step approach to get the padi farmers ready for significantly bigger investments (e.g a Dam for their irrigation needs). You dont invest heavy first and then see if they are ready. Thats like putting the cart before the horse. We must see tangible results based on the already invested amount of RM150M for better yields. If this is not forth coming yet, putting another RM450M into the Dam would not make sense.

    My feedback is limited to only looking at the best approach for ensuring we reach our common goal i.e for better things for all including all Sabahans.

    In conclusion, the Dam idea was mooted, primarily, because of ensuring national rice security. This primary consideration can be fullfilled by (yes) simply improving the YIELD!

    Hope it clarifies. I have emailed u also.

    P/s: I just read the comment by Ray in your comment area. My feedback complements his. He is on the button.

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