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.