Saturday, October 6, 2012

Back to the Basic.....

After 57b years of Independence, Malaysia stands on the brink of becoming a developed country. In fact some people say that it already is, that's probably referring to the urban areas. Go to the rural areas and although one can see modern housing and some traditional houses given a very modern and sophisticated look, with many cars during holidays when the Malays go back to their 'kampungs', the farms, the rice fields, the rubber smallholdings, and the large tracks of undeveloped land give a clear sign of underdevelopment.

All countries have their unattended backyards and slum areas although they are developed and the people are living in a post-industrial era. But the farms and orchards. if the country has a significant agricultural sector, will be full of modern machinery and equipment with modern tools available for any kind of agricultural work.

That to me is the basic difference between a developed and a developing country. When farmers still use traditional tools and equipment on their farms, rice fields and small rubber holdings, use bicycles or lightweight motorcycles for transport, and produce agricultural products in small quantities for self consumption or sale to petty traders in the local area,we have underdevelopment still staring at us in the face.

The question is why can't the small and even middle-size farms, rice fields, rubber small holdings, orchards etc get modernized with the widespread use of modern equipment and agricultural tools? Uneconomical to use big machines? Why don't they use smaller machines? Costly? Or simply just not available

I would say with certainty that the small machines and equipment are just not available or just too expensive. Why? Because we've to buy them from oversea and even if they are cheap in the developed countries (probably where they are manufactured), the price over here would be exorbitant. The small Japanese Kabota hand-plough for the rice field, used to be popular in Malaysia but they are not used anymore for they are expensive and not economical to use by small farmers. The small plough-cum-tractors that were displayed at the MAHA shows, were very expensive and beyond the mens of small farmers. I've been trying to find a small lawn-mower which one can ride on without success.The one available is huge and certainly uneconomical for use in the average homes.

Can we become a fully developed country when the small-holders sector in all our 4000 or more villages are still very traditional and not very productive. Large tracks of land remained unused and undeveloped because it's too costly to hire the large back-hoe tractors to clear them. Even power-saws,blowers, fogging machines and sprayers are very costly to buy although we now have some cheap ones from China and Taiwan. But maintenance cost could be very high since they break down very often.

I wonder if the government is looking into this matter. We are so obsessed with megaprojects and million dollar programs that the production of little modern machine and equipment for the small and medium-scale farmers is totally neglected. So long as we have to buy them from oversea at exorbitant price, the small-holders sector of our economy, and it's a huge one, might remain underdeveloped.


abdulhalimshah said...

Mechanization of our farms in rural areas should not be a problem if there are people to manage and use them. The issue now is urban migration have caused a dismal interest in farming. Just look at the padi lands in Kuala Pilah.Many of these padi fields that were once a lovely scene in Ulu Bendol and Terachi are all gone. It is not that we need small machines to revive interest in farming, but it is the policy to go for higher incomes which farming is the least lucrative compared to say being in Technology savvy industry.

norzah said...

Very very true, Akhi Halim. But I've been wondering why farming is still a very respectable and lucrative vocation in the developed countries like US, Japan, UK, Korea, Taiwan and even developing countries like Thailand. Why are our youths not interested in staying in the rural areas? My kids told me what attraction do you have there? no internet, no entertainment centers, no modern equipment for agricultural pursuit or just too costly for small sac ale farming, no social life, no freedom to mix around, no shopping malls, etc, etc, Even in the more rural areas these centers of attraction exist in the developed countries, The clubs are everywhere, where social life is even better than in the urban areas. The suraus and mosques in the villages have failed to develop into social and recreationally centers to meet the need of modern youths. What can we do about that? Thanks for the response.

abdulhalimshah said...

Precisely Akhi. Until we bring the facilities found in urban centres to the rural areas and villages, we can safely say that it would be light years before we can really be developed.The reverse order of bringing the town to the Kampongs should make it more attractive for agriculture to the youths. It is a tall order but it is the only way to make the youngsters to remain in Kampongs.