The Melaka state government is planning to initiate a pilot project to cultivate the MR297 padi seed variety that can produce between two and three rice yields per season, on a 36-hectare of padi fields in Sempang here.

State Rural Development, Agriculture and Food Security Committee chairman Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh said the project is expected to start early next year to ensure rice farmers in Melaka receive sufficient supply of seeds.

“This is among the state government’s initiatives to encourage farmers to cultivate padi of this type thereby ensuring rice production in Melaka to increase in the long term,” he told reporters at Kampung Tanjong Pinang, Sempang, here, today.

He said Melaka rice farmers have to source their supplies from outside of Melaka and face difficulties in obtaining the MR297 variety of seeds.

Earlier, he visited the research site for the MR297 Padi Variety Agronomy Research Package project, which was also attended by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute’s (MARDI) Padi and Rice Research Centre director Dr Mohd Syaifudin Abdul Rahman and state MARDI director Nik Adli Nik Muhammad.

Elaborating, Dr Muhamad Akmal said the research conducted at the site found that the variety is highly suitable for cultivation in Sempang which is a water catchment area.

He said normally padi cultivated in non-granary areas can only produce between two and three tonnes of rice per hectare but the MR297 variety can produce two to three times more depending on water and nutrient sources.

“The seeds of this variety can also survive even with a 20 per cent water deficit in rainfed cultivation areas that rely on rainwater and rivers as compared to cultivation in granary areas with a good irrigation system.

“We will join forces with MARDI and all relevant agencies to initiate the pilot project so that the seeds can be produced within the next one and a half to two years,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Muhammad Akmal said the committee would propose to the state government to gazette 1,300 hectares of the state’s padi fields for agricultural purposes.

He said Melaka only produces nine per cent of its rice supply for its population with the rest being sourced from outside the state, adding that the proposal is aimed at preventing further reduction of padi cultivation areas due to land being developed, thus ensuring the country’s food security.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency