The Star 23 Mar 16;
ALOR SETAR: As the sun bakes the land to a crisp, scorched padi fields spanning the horizon throughout Kedah and Perlis bear the evidence of open burning.
The authorities are not happy with this.
“No, they are not allowed to do it,” said Kedah Agriculture committee chairman Datuk Suraya Yaacob stonily.
“We know they need to. Burning rice fields after a harvest is the fastest way to kill off all the insects and fungal spores before the next planting,” she said in an interview.
The fires that farmers start have a tendency to go out of control.
Along the 40km-long Jalan Kangar-Alor Setar route, where padi fields line both sides of the road, many trees have been charred by fire.
One such tree on the 16th km marker burnt for a week until it fell a few days ago.
The tree snagged telephone wires when it fell.
It now leans at an awkward angle, supported by the wires.
Motorcyclist Abdul Khadir Said, 65, who rides along the route daily, said he saw the padi field on fire over a week ago.
“The wind swept the fire up to the dry bushes by the road and then this tree caught fire,” he said.
The padi plot’s farmer Ahmad Md Nor, 75, who lives across the road, said he had been burning his field every dry season for decades.
He didn’t expect the tree trunk to burn for a long time.
Ahmad admitted that when the fires were raging a few days ago, smoke had obscured the road and caused a minor car accident not far from his house.
In Arau, Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute station manager Othman Ismail said dried padi stalks left on the field were usually burnt as it was the most cost-efficient method of pest control.
He recalled that in previous decades, the intentional burning was so severe that farmers could end up setting whole villages on fire.
But they have learned to take turns and stagger the burning to avoid an all-out conflagration.
“If the padi stalks are left to rot, bacteria will fester and attack the next batch. There are also many damaging insects hiding in the stalks that will thrive with the next planting.”
State Environment Committee chairman Datuk Dr Leong Yong Kong said padi farmers were allowed to burn their fields under the supervision of an agriculture officer who would set certain conditions.
“They should make an appointment with the Agriculture Department to have an officer present when they burn their fields. Otherwise, it’s an illegal burning.”
Plantation fire in Sabah kills 79-year old woman
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 23 Mar 16;
KOTA KINABALU: The plantation fires around the state have killed a 79-year old woman on Tuesday.
The charred remains of rubber tapper Yagoi Golok, was found by Kg. Purak Kogis villagers in Kota Belud at her burning plantation at about 1.30pm.
Sabah Fire and Rescue Department public relation officer Mohd Affendy K Ramin said villagers discovered Yagoi.
The villagers had tried to put out the fire before help arrived.
"Firemen managed to bring the plantation fire under control at about 2pm," he said.
The fire at the six-acre rubber plantation was believed to have started from a spark due to the El Nino-induced extreme heat at about 1pm.
There have been more than 700 reports of fires around the state this month.
Dry spell triggers bush fires near Pekan
T.N.ALAGESH New Straits Times 22 Mar 16;
PEKAN: The dry spell has triggered a series of bush fires along Jalan Pekan-Rompin near Nenasi here over the past one week.
The fires, which have flared up at several hot spots along the stretch has forced firemen to patrol and monitor the nearby forest round the clock.
A Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said firemen spent hours controlling the blaze from spreading to the nearby residential areas and plantations.
"If the fire is not contained, the billowing huge clouds of smoke can worsen the situation by reducing visibility in certain areas or causing haze.
In some areas, the burning spot is barely 15 meters from the main road.
"Workers from a shrimp farm in Nenasi have been assisting the department to douse the fire by providing portable water pump sets.
To date, the situation is still under control," he said.
The Star 23 Mar 16;