Malaysia's Sarawak region is gearing up in an attempt to raise rice production rates. The plan is two fold. One, already existing paddies must increase product output. Two, a new area will be designated as a major rice bowl region. Besides rice, other crops will be introduced into the area including maize. Maintaining irrigation infrastructure and the use of pesticides and fertilizer are a few of the seven main activities of rice production aimed at by the proposal.
The end goal is to raise Malaysia's self-sufficiency level (SSL) from its current 72% to 86%.
While this all may seem mundane and run-of-the-mill information, what interested me the most in this article was the following quote by Deputy of Agriculture and Agrobased Industry Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim:
"This rice bowl project is very crucial and must be carried out for the sake of the country's security."
I can understand the need to develop self-sufficiency levels in rice production in order to feed people and increase trade potentiality. However, how that relates to national security alludes me.
One must takes this quote seriously, for it is reflected in the program's cost.
The minister stated that the federal government had given RM161 million to the state government for the project. RM20 million of that is for the development of the new rice padi in Sarawak.