HC Deb 05 February 1947 vol 432 cc359-60W
110. Mr. Rees-Williams

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the serious economic condition of the Malay paddy planters in Malaya, he will take the necessary steps to improve their position by encouraging the formation of a farmers' union, by assisting in the formation of a farmers' co-operative society and, in the meantime, by Government purchase of paddy direct from the farmers.

Mr. Creech Jones

The Government of the Malayan Union are purchasing paddy from the farmers through Government licensed buyers at a price of 20 dollars a picul guaranteed to the end of 1947. The farmers have subsidiary sources of income from coconuts, eggs, fruits, vegetables and in some areas, fish, all of which fetch high prices.

Further, the paddy planters are being assisted in every practical way by the Department of Agriculture, including seed distribution and anti-pest measures. The Department of Drainage and Irrigation has paid special prior attention to repairing paddy area channels which suffered serious deterioration during Japanese occupation, and the Public Relations Department contributes information and advice by means of travelling cinemas, posters and printed leaflets.

Farmers' co-operative societies in the form of seasonal co-operative credit societies have existed in the main paddy areas for many years before the war, and are now becoming active again with the assistance of the Co-operative Departments of the Government of the Malayan Union.