Rice farmers slam diesel price hike, ‘unhelpful’ subsidy programmes

A padi farmers’ empowerment group questions the agriculture ministry’s claim of having approved 30,000 applications for subsidy payouts.

(MalaysiaNow) – The country’s rice industry is said to be facing a dim future in the wake of the sharp rise in diesel prices following the government’s move to end blanket subsidies on June 10, affecting more than 260,000 rice farmers, mostly in Peninsular Malaysia where the fuel hike has been implemented.

This comes even as Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu said that farmers would not be affected by the subsidy removal for diesel.

His ministry also claimed that more than 30,000 farmers and commodity smallholders had had their applications approved under Budi Madani, the government’s compensation programme for eligible recipients to make up for the subsidy withdrawal.

But a Kedah-based padi farmers’ advocacy group is questioning the claim.

Pertubuhan Persaudaraan Pesawah Malaysia (Pesawah) said checks had found no farmer receiving such aid.

It also questioned the conditions for padi farmers to receive the subsidy.

“For individual assistance, a vehicle must be registered with the Road Transport Department (JPJ). No tractors are registered with JPJ.

“Secondly, a rice farmer needs to be registered with the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN). No farmers are registered with LHDN,” Pesawah spokesman Abdul Rashid Yob told MalaysiaNow.

He also cited the condition set under the Budi Agro Komuniti programme, where applicants need to have an annual income of between RM50,000 and RM300,000.

“So if a farmer’s income is less than that, does he qualify?”

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