Malaysia: Penang fears ‘super drought’, calls for delay in padi planting

The Star 16 Apr 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The nation should temporarily stop irrigating padi fields because the “super drought” is here.

This is one of the four measures that Penang’s state-owned water corporation, PBA Holdings Bhd, is calling for.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa urged the Federal Government to instruct all water authorities nationwide to cease the irrigation of padi fields, especially in the northern region, until the rains return.

Jaseni said Teluk Bahang Dam, for example, received 955mm of rain last April but this month, it only got 91mm of rain so far.

“Air Itam Dam had 200mm of rain last April but we only had 59mm in the last two weeks.

“We are now faced with a super drought,” he told reporters during a tour to the waterfall treatment plant in Penang Botanic Gardens.

Citing Muda River in Kedah, Jaseni said its water was too precious now to wet the tens of thousands of hectares of padi fields in Kedah and Penang.

“If we start irrigating for the planting season and run too low on water level later, the padi will just die.

“It is better to delay the planting season and compensate the farmers financially so that they can tide over till it rains again,” he said.

He also called on the Federal Government to instruct all water authorities to reduce their draw-down from the country’s dams and rivers, launch massive cloud seeding operations and urgently raise the water conservation awareness of Malaysians.

Jaseni’s sense of urgency, however, does not seem to be shared by Kedah.

Muda Agricultural Development Authority deputy general manager (technical) Datuk Hor Tek Lip, when contacted, assured that the state’s dam levels were still “comfortable and not worrisome”.

The authority supervises Pedu, Ahning and Muda dams and provides irrigation for over 50% of the state’s padi fields.

“Muda Dam is now releasing water to help Beris Dam regulate Muda River. Normally, we keep Muda Dam’s water.”

Padi planting activity to go on despite hot weather
The Star 17 Apr 16;

PENDANG: There is no cancellation in the padi planting activity schedule for the new season this year in the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) area although the hot weather will persist until June.

Mada chairman Datuk Othman Aziz said the water level at the three major dams supervised by Mada, namely Pedu, Ahning and Muda were at 70% as of yesterday and sufficient for this season.

“We will implement the first planting season according to schedule and at the same time, we will help the state government supply water from the Muda Dam to the Beris Dam.

“In turn, the Beris Dam will channel water via Sungai Muda to Sungai Petani, Kulim, Penang including Penang,” he said after opening the Jom Turun Bendang programme at Kampung Pulau Tengah, Mukim Padang Kerbau, here yesterday.

Also present were Sungai Tiang assemblyman Datuk Suraya Yaacob and Pendang Umno division chief Datuk Paduka Md Rozai Safian.

According to the schedule, three phases of water supply was established by Mada – March 30, April 9 and April 19.

Earlier in his speech, Othman said almost 30% of about 55,000 padi planters in MADA did not use the correct padi seeds resulting in poor quality crops.

“The authorised padi seeds are produced under the Rice Seed Verification quality standard scheme conducted by the Agriculture Department as a confirmation agency,” he said.

Suraya, who is also state Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Committee chairman, said the coordination of 449ha of padi field in Mukim Padang Kerbau here, was much lauded. — Bernama

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