Ministry mulls drone usage in padi cultivation

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The Agiculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry is considering the proposal to use drones in paddy cultivation in the country.

Its deputy minister Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said drones could help farmers to increase their padi output, besides reducing cost, time and manual labour.

He said the drones could be used to sow the seeds, apply fertiliser and pesticides as well as obtain data on the padi field should it be attacked by disease, for early intervention.

"Recently I went to China for a working visit and was introduced to the use of drone technology for padi planting and it saves cost compared to machine or manual labour.

"We will do a demonstration on using drones in the paddy field and hold indepth and comprehensive discussions with ministry officers on the implementation if found effective and practical," he told reporters in Pasir Salak last night.

Tajuddin said this after the presentation of incentives to farmers in the Entry Point Projects 11 Season 2/2016 for Seberang Perak and Sungai Manik/Labu Kubong in Pasir Salak, under the National Key Economics Areas programme.

During the function, 478 farmers received incentives totaling RM2,214,640.60 with each receiving RM2,000 per hectare for every five seasons.

He urged farmers to increase their padi yield to 10 tonnes per hectare, in line with Malaysia's objective to achieve developed nation status by 2020.

"I am still not satisfied at this point because only about 10 percent of the farmers can reach 10 tonnes and this percentage is small.

"The farmers must change their attitude to increase production by ensuring that the fields are free from disease which can destroy the padi, and to harvest properly so there would be no loss," he said.

Meanwhile, Tajuddin described the move to list coconut as a national commodity after restructuring of the Malaysian Cocoa Board as the Malaysian Cocoa and Coconut Corporation, as a positive development to strengthen the coconut industry in the country.

He noted that the country currently did not have adequate supply of coconuts and had to import from Indonesia and the Philippines.

"Apart from that, we also need to make changes in our coconut cultivation considering that the country does not have vast land to plant coconuts on a large scale.

"In keeping with technology, maybe we can plant coconuts in polybags, which does not require a wide area," he said.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Malaysian Cocoa and Coconut Corporation would be set up to replace the Malaysian Cocoa Board in efforts to increase coconut production in the country.

The measure was also taken in view of the higher price of coconut compared to palm oil with income from each hectare presently higher than other commodities.

- Bernama

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