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PADANG BESAR: Malaysia can reduce its dependence on grain corn imports if domestic production can meet 50 per cent within the next five years, said Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu (pix).

He said that currently the country imports almost 100 per cent of corn from foreign countries and the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (KPKM) is trying to increase local production of the commodity.

“Corn is the main source of food for livestock and some steps have been taken by the government but it needs the support from the private sector.

“The government has given various forms of incentives to make this effort a success so that it can help reduce the outflow in foreign exchange for the purpose of importing supplies,” he said on a working visit to the Perlis state grain corn project site today.

Also present was Perlis Agriculture and Agro-based Industries exco Razali Saad, director of the Industrial Development Division in the Department of Agriculture, Christopher John Biai and Perlis Agriculture department director Hafizuddin Othman.

Mohamad Sabu said that apart from Perlis, the leading company in maize cultivation Green World Genetics Sdn Bhd is trying to expand the cultivation to Sabah.

He said this year, a total of RM13 million had been allocated by the government for the development of the grain corn industry involving studies, research, quality improvement, procurement of machinery and planting.

In another development, Mohamad said Malaysia has the potential to export rice one day if all the farmers are willing to cultivate padi fields full-time (using new technology).

“We can export rice if the country’s average rice production can increase from four tonnes to seven tonnes per hectare,“ he said.

He said the confidence was based on the success of the large-scale (SMART SBB) Mini Sekinchan’s MADA Rice Field Project in Kampung Lat 1000.

“In the first harvest in Kampung Lat 1000, we managed to produce as much as 10.44 tonnes per hectare and the amount is almost the same as the yield in Sekinchan, Selangor which is around 12 tonnes per hectare,” he said.

He said besides that, the use of smaller and lighter rice harvest machines in Kampung Lot 1000 yesterday could reduce the percentage of rice spillage to only two per cent compared to 10 per cent previously.

Yesterday, Bernama reported that Mohamad Sabu attended the (Smart SBB) Mini Sekinchan project and witnessed the first harvest of the Madani padi harvesting programme in Kampung Lat 1000. -Bernama