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Value of commodities export and production saw 21% increase, says Mah Siew Keong

PETALING JAYA: The value of commodities exported and commodities-based production rose 21 percent to RM93.4 billion for the January to August 2017 period, said Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

The Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister said this surpassed the RM77.5 billion which was made during the same period last year.

He attributed the success to a number of government initiatives such as the Palm oil/ livestock Integrated Incentive Scheme (ITe), the Palm Oil Smallholders New Planting Scheme (TBSPK) and the Palm Oil Integrated Incentive (ITa).

“This proved that a number of government schemes implemented were successful in strengthening the role of small-scale farmers in contributing towards the country’s income,” he said when officiating the National Association of Smallholders Malaysia (Nash)’s 21st annual general assembly.

During the assembly, Mah stressed that the government has always acknowledged the role and contribution of small-scale farmers to the country, and referred to them as the “National Economic Pulse”.

“It was the hard work of small scale farmers in producing goods for the commodities sector that led to an increase for eight months in a row,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mah assured that the ministry would address the issue of the bagworm infestation that is currently plaguing the palm oil industry.

“Despite being small in size, bagworms are able to destroy the palm fronds by drying out its leaves," said Mah.

According to studies conducted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), bagworm infestations have affected more than 33,000 ha of palm oil plantation areas.

“The said location covers plantation sites in Johor, Perak, Pahang and Selangor and it is estimated that 13,000 small-scale farmers nationwide has been affected.

“The ministry takes this very seriously because bagworms have the potential to affect the industry’s productivity from 30 to 50 percent and the losses is estimated to be more than RM120 mil a year,” he said.

Mah said that the MPOB has been given a two-week deadline to propose a comprehensive solution to the matter.

At the same time, Mah said that eligible applicants to the Monsoon Season Aid would be entitled to a cash assistance of RM200 per month from November this year until January 2018.