KUCHING (Feb 4): Both Sabah and Sarawak have rice self-sufficiency levels (SSLs) below 60 per cent with a declining trend in the planted paddy area and a small contribution of 4.2 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively to the total rice produced in Malaysia, according to a report by Khazanah Research Institute.
The think tank’s report, titled ‘The Paddy and Rice Industry of Sabah and Sarawak’, however said having SSLs below 60 per cent does not mean the paddy and rice industry in East Malaysia is not essential.
“Alongside increasing rice production using lowland, modern varieties, East Malaysia may want to venture into the artisanal, premium rice segment by leveraging their traditional and heirloom varieties,” it said.
The report pointed out that Malaysia itself is still not 100 per cent self-sufficient in rice, citing latest statistics noting that the nation is at 65 per cent self-sufficiency.
Nonetheless, having an SSL level above 60 per cent is considered a comfortable state to be in.
It added that East Malaysia is not a significant contributor to domestic production in terms of rice production in volume.
“In 2021, Malaysia’s rice production amounted to a total of 1.68 million metric tonnes (MT) in which a majority of produced rice was contributed by Peninsula (90.5 per cent) followed by Sarawak (5.3 per cent) and Sabah contributing the lowest with 4.2 per cent.
“In 2019, Sarawak contributed about 109,260 MT of rice to Malaysia’s total production of 685,548 MT – with Sri Aman contributing 14,461 MT, Sibu (11,707), Kapit (15,982), Serian (11,417), Sarikei (13,422), Miri (12,726), Betong (9,791), Mukah (5,596), Bintulu (787), Samarahan (2,074), Kuching (4,685), Limbang (6,612),” it said, adding that as of 2019, Sarawak’s rice consumption per capita was 92kg while the SSL stood at 51 per cent.
It noted that the rice consumption per capita in Sarawak has been on a general increasing trend up to 2014 before beginning to decline by 2019, with the SSL hovering between 40 to 50 per cent since 2009.
“Paddy production has been relatively stable throughout the 2000s and only started declining from 2018 onwards.
“This decline in production is consistent with the declining trend in paddy planted areas. This could be attributed to repurposing of paddy area to the planting of other crops or for other developments,” the report said.
The report also stated that a total area of 109,260 hectares were used for paddy planting in 12 districts in Sarawak in 2019, which contributed to 15.9 per cent of Malaysia’s total area of planted paddy.
It said most of the paddy production is concentrated in granary areas in Peninsular Malaysia, accounting for 98.4 per cent of the total paddy production in 2020.
Among the 12 granary areas, the Integrated Agriculture Development Areas (IADA) of Kota Belud (Sabah) and Batang Lupar (Sarawak) have relatively more minor contributions of 1.4 percent and 0.2.percent of the total rice produced in the granary area.
Paddy cultivation in these areas comprises high-yielding, cheaper, medium-grained plain rice varieties, mostly developed by Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) to increase SSL in both states.