Malaysia: Planting season delayed due to dry weather


ALOR SETAR: Padi farmers in Kedah and Perlis here have got their plots ready, tilled the land and prepared the soil to begin the planting for the new season. But they are just sitting around.

They cannot plant because the rains are not coming and there is a water shortage. They have been forced to delay their new planting season which is supposed to be between now and April.

Mad Kamal Ismail, 48, from Kampung Tempayan Pecah, Mukim Ayer Hitam said his plot was ready for sowing two weeks ago.

“I am waiting for the water to be released but it’s not been done yet. The problem is even if the water is released, it will flow into the main irrigation canal, which is far from my fields.

“Because the water level is so low now, I’m afraid it may not flow into the sub-canal to reach my plot,” he said, adding that at the moment, the sub canal had dried up.

He said 10 relong (2.8ha) of padi field had dried up because water from the main irrigation canal could not reach the area.

“The water shortage problem has affected most padi farmers in Kedah and Perlis,” he said.

Mad Kamal said the only way to overcome this problem was to flood the fields with water from Pedu, Muda, Beris and Ah Ning dams.

Abdullah Wan Teh, 45, from Hutan Tualang in Ayer Hitam said his padi field had also faced the same problem since January.

“My income has been affected as I depend solely on the padi field,” he said.

Padi farmers Yudoh Kamis, 75, and Hatijah Ahmad Saad, 63, from Kampung Kok Klang in Chuping, Perlis, also could not do any planting.

“Now, I have no income and depend on my son to give me money for my daily expenses,” said Yudoh.

“There are about 100 relong of padi fields in Kok Klang with 300 families. All face the same problem.”

Bernama reported that since the earlier padi crop was harvested in January, replanting should begin in late March or early April but as of now, the Penang Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) has not been able to supply water.

It reported that the Kedah state government was considering cloud seeding or rescheduling padi replanting if the hot weather persists.

The padi fields in Perak may fare better with the Department of Irrigation and Drainage rescheduling the release of water from the Bukir Merah dam.

Director Datuk Ir Abdul Razak Dahalan said the release of water for padi cultivation began on Feb 20 and would go on up to April 10. The original plan was to release water only on March 25.

The Bukit Merah dam supplies water for the whole of the Kerian Irrigation Scheme.

Fish breeders are also worried with about 10,000 carp, snapper and grouper fish fry in Kuala Sangga and Kuala Sepetang near Taiping reported dead due to the weather.

The deaths cost fish farmers hundreds of thousands of ringgit.

Breeder Chuah Thye Guan, 50, said he put thousands of carp fish fry in the cages last week, but was shocked to find them all dead.

“I found the sea water had receded to the bottom of the cages,” he told Bernama.

Sekinchan farmers defy weather to replant fields
The Star 18 Mar 16;

KLANG: Padi farmers in Selangor’s rice bowl Sekinchan are replanting in full force for the new season despite the abnormally hot wea­ther, to prevent a serious shortage of rice.

Samudin Abdullah, 49, who has eight plots in the Sungai Leman area, said he and the other farmers had planted new crops two days ago.

So far, he said, everything had gone on without a glitch although the farmers had to hydrate the plots frequently as opposed to the usual practice of only once when replanting.

“We usually let the water into the plots once for replanting and the water remains throughout the replanting period.

“This time around, the plots dried up and I had to flood my plots at least four times,” said Samudin.

He added that farmers had to also manually pump the water into the plots as there was too little for it to flow into the waterways and into the plots.

This required the farmers to constantly pump water manually from their water catchment ponds into the rice fields.

“The hot weather has also caused rapid growth of weeds and other parasitic plants. We have to keep weeding and buy more pesticide,” he added.

Samudin’s fellow padi farmer Ng Oon Chai, who has seven plots in the same area, said the cost of caring for the seedlings until harvest time had gone up because they had to pay for extra man-hours and pesticide.

“We have to cough up at least RM1,000 more for each plot,” he said.

Ng added that he hoped the yield would be high and of good quality, despite the hot spell.

Drop in local production will force rice imports
The Star 18 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is ready to import more rice if local grain production drops as a result of the persisting El Nino phenomenon.

Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said Malaysia imported 30% of rice for the nation’s consumption while the other 70% came from local growers.

“If production falls, we will increase the import to offset the drop in local supply. Of course, that will be a temporary measure,” he said.

Tajuddin said while the hot weather would definitely affect padi production.

Mardi, in a statement, said a 2°C rise in temperature could lead to a 13% reduction in padi yield while drought – or a 15% decrease in seasonal rainfall - could lead to drop in yield up to 80%. Any rice in temperature above 34°C was also certain to affect yield.

Extreme heat could also cause damage to the rice yield and grain quality besides bringing disease, it said.

Tajudin said the Government was flexible in its import policy despite aiming to achieve full self-sufficiency by 2020.

“We are flexible in our policies because we have to think of food security. We don’t want to see people having problems because rice is our staple food.

“If we have to import, then we will import. The basic policy is that we want to protect our local producers,” he added.

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