JERLUN, Kedah (BERNAMA) - Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday (March 27) that he would dish out an increase in special aid for padi farmers once his ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition claims victory on election night.
"This is in appreciation of the solid support of the padi farmers for the government. It is up to you to make that wise decision. Work well and there will be additional gains," he said at the launching of a national-level special aid for paddy farmers in Jerlun, Kedah.
The government is expected to call for the country's 14th general election within weeks, with Kedah being one of the battleground states eyed by the opposition.
Datuk Seri Najib said padi farmers would continue to receive special attention from the government in appreciation of their contribution to the country in terms of paddy production.
"I would like to emphasise that we must appreciate the contribution of the padi farmers. We must understand the hard work they put in," he said.
Mr Najib said the government had provided a total allocation of RM2.7 billion (S$910 million) for 2011 to 2020 to develop the irrigation system in the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) area in northern Kedah state, a key padi growing district in Malaysia.
"Our goal is to realise an output of 8 tonnes per hectare compared to the present 6.19 tonnes. If we can achieve that target, the per capita income of the padi farmer households will rise to RM48,000 per year. This is our goal for the Mada area," he said.
The prime minister said the government felt that all the aid given to the padi farmers had been worthwhile and the government should continue providing aid because they worked hard.
This year, he said, the government had allocated RM1.69 billion for padi subsidies and incentives nationwide.
He also launched a special aid of RM200 per month for three months for padi farmers nationwide.
The total RM600 a month given to them is to help reduce the financial burden of padi farmers waiting for the padi harvest.
Up to 325,518 padi farmers in the country are eligible for the aid.