Malaysia: Carry out cloud seeding to help farmers, Govt urged

LO TERN CHERN The Star 9 Apr
KEPALA BATAS: In view of the El Nino phenomenon, the Federal Government should carry out cloud seeding in the northern states to help thousands of padi farmers, said Penang Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin.

He said priority should be given to the water catchment area in Sik, Kedah, where some 5,000 padi farmers in north Seberang Prai in Penang were getting water supply from.

“The district is in dire straits as only 1,546ha out of 8,500ha of padi field are supplied with water.

“The farmers in this district have been drawing water from Sungai Muda. We hope the Beris Dam in Sik, Kedah, will continue to release water into Sungai Muda.

“That’s why we need a national effort from the Federal Government to carry out cloud seeding in the northern states.

“Besides Penang, both Perlis and Kedah are also facing water shortage,” he said during a press conference at the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) office in Lahar Ikan Mati here yesterday.

Dr Afif also said it was difficult to irrigate the fields from Sungai Muda because the heatwave was drying up the river.

Pumping stations in Bumbung Lima and Pinang Tunggal, north Seberang Prai, are trying to channel water into the fields but the one in Pinang Tunggal is already suffering from low levels.

He said the level in Sungai Muda had to be at least 2m for the pumps to work efficiently.

“The water level at Pinang Tunggal station is at 1.9m and it cannot work effectively. But the station in Bumbung Lima with water level of 2.05m can pump and supply to certain areas only,” he said.

Dr Afif said the state government had allocated funds to carry out cloud seeding operations, adding that each operation costs RM14,700 daily.

He said so far, about 40% of padi fields in the state had been irrigated.

Farmers affected by El Nino: Ahmad Shabery
New Straits Times 8 Apr 16;

SABAK BERNAM: Some 2,000 out of 9,000 farmers here have been affected by the El Nino phenomena which is currently sweeping the country.

Rice production could also be affected if the current dry spell persists.

Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said that while the figures would only be known once the paddy was harvested, it is expected that production will be affected by at least five per cent.

"For now, the ministry is not able to finalise whether El Nino has affected the production of the rice.

We can not determine the actual figures until it is harvested.

Among the problems faced by our farmers is that the water supply is not being distributed to some of the paddy fields in the vicinity as scheduled, causing a delay in the production," he said. He said this was because the water supply was being used in other areas. Ahmad Shabery was speaking during a visit to the area.

He said the purpose of his visit was to check the condition of the water supply system in the district, especially since the country is being hit by El Nino.

He added that a few areas had been badly affected. However, the completion of a retention pond could alleviate the situation soon.

"Now that, the water retention pond in Parit 4 has been finally built, the farmers in the district can enjoy adequate water supply for their rice crops.

The construction of the pond was actually a Federal government project and should have been completed in 2012,” he said.

"However, the project was delayed because the state government had issued a fine of RM600,000 to the Federal government. "So after paying, we managed to complete it in 2014.

"The pond will be fully operational in two weeks time," he said, adding that total cost of the project was RM20 million.

He said the ministry will also seek help from the local councils and authorities to help monitor the situation during the hot season.

"We need to know whether the hot season will affect the production of rice,” he said.

Cloud seeding in Seberang Perai Utara to stop paddy fields from drying up
PRIYA PUBALAN New Straits Times 8 Apr 16;

BUTTERWORTH: Cloud-seeding will be conducted in the Seberang Perai Utara district to save paddy fields from drying up.

State Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Health Exco chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said the move was to help farmers with paddy fields that were drying up due to El Nino.

"The heat wave has caused the paddy fields in the SPU district to be non-functioning lately.

"We have supplied as much water as we can from the river and it is not sufficient to sustain crop development.

"Thus, we need the federal government's green light and support to implement the move but its success depends on the availability and type of clouds," he said, adding that cloud-seeding cannot be done in Penang but only in neighbouring state Kedah.

Bottled water for Banggi
RUBEN SARIO The Star 9 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Bottled water is being rushed into the nation’s northern-most island of Banggi, which has been hit hard by the prolonged El Nino-induced dry spell.

The precious cargo is scheduled to reach Banggi today, a day after the island’s water treatment plant was shut down as the river there ran completely dry.

Kudat district officer Sapdin Ibrahim said 3,000 cartons of bottled water were being sent in from Kudat town to Banggi by boat.

“This will be a start in the continuous supply of bottled water to Banggi,” he told The Star.

He said the island’s hospital at the main settlement of Karakit would be given priority in the supply of the bottled water.

Each family in the five villages with piped water will receive three cartons of bottled water.

Sapdin said families in other villages on the island would receive one carton of water for now.

Asked about a proposal to send water by barge, he said it was too costly as a return trip would cost about RM30,000.

“We found that it would be cheaper to send the bottled water by boat,” he said, adding that his office, the Water Department, NGOs and Banggi state assemblyman Datuk Abdul Mijul Unaini were also helping in the logistics.

There are 18 villages in Banggi with a population 10,000, according to Sapdin.

Banggi islander Asni Madin said a spring near Kampung Timbang Dayang remained the sole water source for them but it was fast drying up.

“Just to fill a 10-litre container takes more than an hour. That is how little the flow is and so many people are depending on that spring, including those from other islands,” she said.

Asni, a former teacher, said islanders who could afford it were buying water from Karakit.

Those who have to go to Kudat were buying crates of mineral water to bring back with them on the ferry, she said.

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