Highland Farming (Cost)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the cost per acre for farming the highland areas in Malaya; and the crop yield per acre.
Agriculture in the Malayan highlands is almost exclusively concerned with tea growing and market gardening. Tea is grown on about 50,000 acres, the average annual cost of production including manufacture being 470 dollars and the yield 700 lbs. per acre. Market gardening is carried out on about 750 acres, the average annual cost of production being 4,850 dollars, and the yield 12 tons per acre. These figures do not include capital outlay. The area is unsuited for rice cultivation.
Food Crops (Cultivation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what amount has been spent by the Government of Malaya on Government farms opened up for the cultivation of rice substitute crops; what acreage has been planted; what are the weight and value of the crops harvested to date; and whether he is satisfied with the results of this experiment.
The Government of the Malayan Union has spent 4,200,000 Straits dollars on short-term food production for crops, including rice, during the period April, 1946, to June, 1947, of which over 2,000,000 dollars is capital expenditure. Five thousand, three hundred and twenty-three acres have been planted, the weight of crops harvested being 196 tons, value at 20,000 dollars. Heavy expenditure has been entailed in the preliminary work of clearing and preparing land for cultivation, and it must be some time before the full benefits of this development become apparent. Nevertheless, in the Governor's view, the results have so far been disappointing.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there seems to be some difference of opinion between the experts of the Department of Agriculture and the short-term food production committee with regard to the cutting down of the tropical Malayan forest whose natural productions are tropical trees and rubber, and that, consequently, the 80,000 acres of highland that were put down for rice will not yield sufficient rice to make it worth while?
I am fully aware of the importance of conserving the Malayan forests. On the other hand, there is a tremendous drive by the Agricultural Department to grow more food wherever that can be done.
Will the Minister confirm, as he has done before, that there is a large part of the population for whom no substitute for rice can be obtained?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that Malayan officers are compelled to retire from the service at the age of 55 years and under in certain cases; and why such officers are excluded from temporary increase in pension until they have reached 60 years of age unless incapacitated by ill-health.
I took occasion at the end of April, when sending them particulars of the increases introduced in this country by the Pensions Increase Act, 1947, to invite a number of Governors, including the Governors of the Malayan Union and Singapore, to consider reducing the minimum qualifying age for pension increase from 60 years to 55 years.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the question of revising the pension increase for Malayan and other colonial pensioners in the light of the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1947, is still under consideration; and when the result is to be announced.
I would invite the hon. Member's attention to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) on 2nd July. I have not yet received replies from the Governors of the Malayan Union and Singapore to the invitation sent them on 26th April to review their schemes.