KUCHING: The federal government has taken several measures to ease the burden of farmers affected by the falling prices of commodities, a federal minister said yesterday.
Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said one of the measures is to provide smallholders with agricultural input assistance under the Prihatin 2020 Economic Stimulus Package, amounting to RM3,000 for one hectare, which is given on a one-off basis through issuance of vouchers.
For the oil palm plantation sector, he explained that the efforts undertaken by the government to help smallholders increase their income and overcome the challenges include encouraging them to join the Sustainable Oil Palm Planters Cooperative (KPSM).
“An incentive of RM200,000 is given to KPSM for the purpose of building a weighing centre to conduct the sale and purchase of fresh fruit bunches (FFB).
“Also introduced is the Easy Financing Scheme without interest with a revolving capital of RM100,000 to increase the FFB from smallholders at the weighing centre owned by KPSM,” he said in his written reply in the Dewan Rakyat recently.
Mohd Khairuddin was replying to a question from Serian MP Datuk Seri Richard Riot during the question-and-answer session.
Riot had asked the minister to state what efforts were being made to help smallholders of pepper, palm oil and rubber commodities in view of the low prices of these commodities.
For those in the rubber plantation sector, Mohd Khairuddin said the government is now introducing ‘RRIMniaga Application’ that can be used by licensees to record rubber transactions to speed up the process of applying Rubber Production Incentives from the Malaysian Rubber Board.
“The government also implements the fixed pricing mechanism by providing an allocation of RM6.4 million as working capital to the cooperatives for the purpose of transactions involving rubber.
“This mechanism can offer a cup lump price at an average of RM0.10 to RM0.20 per kilogramme, higher than other rubber buyers.”
Mohd Khairuddin also said that one of the main challenges faced by the government is to stabilise the price of major agricultural products such as palm oil, rubber and pepper.
He said the instability of prices was due to various factors including the global market price scenario which is also influenced by economic growth, demand, supply and stocks.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has also affected some of the demand for agricultural products, which has also caused prices to fall,” he said.
The latest measures implemented by the government in stabilising agricultural prices include providing exemption from export duty on crude palm oil (CPO), crude palm kernel oil (CPKO) and processed palm kernel oil (RBDPKO) until Dec 31 this year, he added.
“Other measures include increasing palm oil biofuels with petroleum diesel through the B20 Biodiesel Programme (20 per cent palm biodiesel and 80 per cent petroleum diesel) to help increase domestic crude palm oil consumption.
“We also enhance cooperation among major rubber-producing countries namely Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia under the framework of the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC),” he said.
Mohd Khairuddin added that this collaboration was established to implement and monitor the management of natural rubber production as well as to balance the supply and demand of rubber in the world market through three main mechanisms – Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme (AETS), Supply Management Scheme (SMS) and Demand Promotion Scheme (DPS).
“The government is also exploring new markets for all agricultural products through promotional activities and matching new markets with local manufacturers and buyers from abroad, and carrying out economic and technical missions to strengthen ties with major importers of Malaysian agricultural products to gain more market access in those countries,” he said.