Malaysia is aiming to achieve rice self-sufficiency and end rice imports by 2020, Bernama news agency quoted Malaysian Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry as saying on May 13.

The country’s government will spend 2.2 billion RM (around 615 million USD) out of the 6 billion RM (1.7 billion USD) budget allocated to the agriculture sector this year to help local farmers produce rice on a wide scale and increase yields.

Other plans to increase sufficiency include upgrading irrigation networks, using hybrid paddy seeds and adopting good agriculture practices.

The farmers expect to raise their paddy yield to 7 tonnes per hectare from the current level of 6 tonnes.

According to the minister, Malaysia imports around 0.9 million tonnes of rice every year, while another one million tonnes is illegally imported.

The website reported on May 12 that the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimated Malaysia’s rice imports between 2014 and 2015 increased 24 percent from the 2013 – 2014 period, following strong domestic consumption demand and the government’s efforts to replenish national stockpiles.

The country’s paddy rice production has also been forecast to hit 2.6 million tonnes, up 100,000 tonnes from last year, thanks to favourable weather condition and continued support from the government to the sector, FAO said.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture estimates Malaysia will produce about 1.8 million tonnes of rice and import around one million tonnes of rice this year.-VNA