Tawau: The Farmers Organisation Authority (LPP) Sabah expects to start work on the Kota Belud Padi Estate project late January next year with rice farming on 800 hectares of land, said LPP Sabah Director, Anita Misuari.
She said the project, which is under the National Key Economic Area (NKEA), will involve a total area of 5,000 hectares to be developed in stages till the year 2020.
The project is expected to help raise the income of farmers while offering at least 1,000 job opportunities to the locals.
Apart from the early preparatory works for the project carried out in October, LPP has been also briefing farmers on the project, visiting the project site with other related agencies as well as the Kota Belud granary centre.
"Kota Belud was chosen due to its good infrastructure and irrigation system.
The Kota Belud Area Farmers Organisation (PPK) was selected as the coordinating company for the NKEA EPP II Kota Belud Padi Estate Project by the Sabah state government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry.
"This project is aimed at increasing the produce and income of farmers in the long term. The management of the paddy field will be done by Kota Belud PPK," she said in a statement to Bernama yesterday.
If all goes according to plan, the first harvest could be seen early May 2013.
Other agencies involved in the project include the Sabah Agricultural Department, Sabah Drainage and Irrigation Department, Bernas, Agro Bank and ACM (S) Sdn Bhd.
The NKEA's project in Kota Belud is expected to increase the average rice grain production of a farmer to 8.5 metric tonnes per hectare by 2020 and consequently rice production in the country.
Anita said the project will also help educate farmers towards advanced farming practices.
She said Kota Belud PPK had also suggested three management models for the project, namely the Permanent Lease, Profit Sharing and Paid Management and that the majority of participants had opted for the Paid Management model whereby PPK will charge each land owner a service fee of RM152 for each tonne of net padi grains produced after harvesting.
The fees received from the participants would be utilised for administration cost, Anita said.
"Under the programme, the project participants will pass the land management rights to Kota Belud PPK which will coordinate the process. The involved farmers will be also given an incentive of RM2,000/hectare during each planting season," she said.
Farmers will also have the choice of participating in the programme directly.
Anita said PPK Kota Belud and LPP have an operations capacity capital of RM5 million as well as 104 units of tractors to work on the fields and harvest machines.--Courtesy of New Sabah Times