Malaysia: Poultry farmers travel far in search of water

The Star 3 May 16;

KOTA TINGGI: Kota Tinggi folk are forced to travel as far as 20km to get water to meet their daily needs during the water rationing period in the district.

Poultry farmer Maiswan Musta­jab, 51, said since the rationing exercise began last month, he and his workers had been looking for water to keep his chickens alive and losses at a minimum.

He said since April 19, about 10,000 of his 25,000 chickens had died due to the lack of water and that it was hard to keep them alive as 10,000 gallons of water was needed each day.

“So, we would drive around to look for any possible water sources such as rivers, canals and also wells to keep my chickens alive,” he said, adding that his farm in Kampung Tuan Sheh had been operating since 1993.

Another farmer, Shahnur Nazri, 30, who has about 90,000 chickens, said he even woke up as early as 5.30am to beat others for water at the Teluk Mahkota canal, about 2km from his farm.

“I was only able to retrieve water from the canal for two days (April 19 and 20) as a lot of people went there for the same purpose, which caused the supply to deplete.

“So, now I have to travel about 6km to a pond in Jalan Semangga,” he added.

Shahnur said he also sought help from others to obtain RM4,500 litres of water from SAJ Holdings by paying a RM150 transportation charge per trip.

So far, he has paid four times since the rationing exercise started.

Bus driver Hussin Salleh, 65, said although the water supply taken from the nearby canal and well tasted funny, he could not do much as those were his only options apart from buying mineral water.

“Luckily it is not smelly, so I can still use it for washing and bathing because my family and I use the water supply given by SAJ for cooking and drinking,” he added.

Farmer Turino Mat Mustam, 48, complained that SAJ had not been following its every-two-day sche­dule when supplying water to his area and that taps had been dry for six days since the supply truck came.

“This has made our lives more difficult as I had to drive some 6km just to look for water and even bathed at a nearby canal and pond,” he said.

When contacted, State Health and Environment Exco Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the water taken from rivers, canals and wells should be safe for use if it was not contamina­ted by any chemical or poison.

“Even the state government encourages the people to use water supply from canals and wells and to practise rain harvesting, especially during water rationing or dry spells,” he said, adding that the public could always call the Health Department to analyse the water quality if they were unsure.

The water rationing period began on April 18 and is scheduled to go on until May 15. Until then, water supply is cut off for two days before resuming for a day.

Without rain, Penang paddy farmers risk losing S$12.7m
Today Online 3 May 16;

GEORGETOWN — Kedah may be the country’s rice bowl, but paddy farmers in neighbouring Penang are at risk of losing a whopping RM37 million (S$12.7 million) in revenue for the current planting season if the dry spell continues.

With the current weather conditions, the state government is prioritising human consumption and has cut water for irrigation purposes, which has affected farming operations.

According to Penang state agriculture department director Azahar Ibrahim, it costs about RM5,000 to plant each hectare of paddy field. “The total income losses they will face are calculated by deducting the costs from their estimated revenue,” he told Malay Mail Online.

The revenue for each hectare is estimated to be around RM9,000 to RM10,000, he said.

Currently, a total 8,622ha of paddy fields in Seberang Perai and Balik Pulau in the state, with a total 4,765 farmers, do not have enough water for irrigation.

The state had proposed a solution for the affected farmers in northern Seberang Perai to start the dry seeding method on May 10.

According to Kampung Terus farmer Md Pisol Mahamud, the dry seeding method requires less water, but once the paddy has sprouted, the fields still need to be watered by the rain.

“The fields need to be damp and this method takes a longer time for it to sprout as the seeds will depend on rain, so if there is no rain, some of it may not sprout at all,” he said.

He said even those paddy fields with irrigation now face risks if the dry spell continues because the paddy still needed to be watered after it has sprouted.

“Our yield may decrease by 70 per cent because of the weather,” he said.

Each paddy planting season lasts an average 115 days and it needs to be watered intermittently.

“Even for dry seeding, we need rain, and we can’t water it ourselves because this method means it needs water to be spread evenly throughout the field,” he said.

Malaysia, especially its states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak, has been enveloped in a heatwave — affecting up to four million people — resulting in the temporary closure of schools, as well as slowing vegetable production, leading to price hikes.

The drought has forced some states, such as Perlis and Johor, to impose water rationing.

Md Pisol’s paddy fields, located near the Kulim River, still have water supply for irrigation. He had already planted the seeds a few weeks ago.

“We were told that we will get supply as long as they can get water from the river, but if the water runs out, there’s nothing anyone can do but hope for rain,” he said.

When asked what he could do during times like this, he said they will have to look for other part-time jobs to supplement their income.

“It’s not like we will get money from the government,” he said. “What do the politicians know about our hardships? So we have to depend on ourselves.” MALAY MAIL ONLINE

Tunnel among plans to protect dam
The Star 3 May 16;

KERIAN: A 15km tunnel linking Sungai Perak to the Bukit Merah Dam and mini reservoirs there are among plans to ensure that water level at the dam stay sustainable, says Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

He said the dam, which is one of the oldest in Malaysia, had been affected by peat soil siltation at the bottom of the lake.

To counter this, the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry has allocated RM10mil to clean up the peat soil.

“It will take time. Everyone must take care of the Bukit Merah Dam because it is a century-old piece of history. It is an important water source for the people of Kerian.

“It provides water to 30,000ha of farm land,” he said after visiting the dam yesterday.

The water channel from Sungai Perak to the Bukit Merah reservoir, he said, would take time.

“We need at least RM300mil to build this 15km tunnel, which will ensure that the water in the dam does not drop to critical level in the future,” he added.

Plans are also being discussed to build mini reservoirs and implement the River Bank Filtration (RBF) well project there, which Dr Zambry said could produce at least 25 million litres of water per day in the future.

RBF is a type of filtration by purifying water taken from pumps adjacent to a riverbank.

On land encroachment in the dam’s water catchment areas, Dr Zambry said the problem was not the only issue causing the water in the dam to drop to critical levels.

“Don’t just pinpoint one problem. We know the crisis has affected many, especially the farmers, but the peat soil siltation and dry weather also contributed to the issue,” he added.

It was reported yesterday that encroachment into more than 200ha of forest reserves was believed to be one of the factors affecting the water catchment area at the Bukit Merah Dam.

The forest reserves act as a buffer zone around the Bukit Merah reservoir.

Bagan Serai MP Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the land intrusion, especially at Kampung Selamat and the Pondok Tanjung forest reserve, had been happening over the past few years.

The land was cleared illegally for agricultural purposes.

The Bukit Merah Dam supplies water to over 22,000ha of padi field in the Kerian district and is a source of drinking water for over 200,000 people, including the industrial areas in Kamunting and Taiping.

According to Dr Noor Azmi, who is also Bagan Serai Agriculture Development chairman, measures to stop the dam’s water level from dropping, including cloud-seeding and upgrading the Bukit Merah reservoir, would be in vain if the encroachment issue was not addressed.

Yesterday, the level at the dam increased to 6.3m from 6.06m on April 25.

Hot spell causes water levels to drop at six dams in Kedah
The Star 3 May 16;

ALOR SETAR: Water levels at six dams in Kedah have dipped due to the heatwave caused by the El Nino phenomenon, according to the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada).

It said, however, water levels at three of the dams were still sufficient and at safe levels.

Mada deputy general manager (technical) Datuk Hor Tek Lip said the water levels at the Pedu Dam recorded a reading of 55.47%, Ahning Dam (71.69%) and the Muda Dam (30.40%).

"The water levels have dropped but it is still adequate to accommodate the irrigation system for the first 2016 paddy cultivation season despite the El Nino phenomenon," he said when contacted by Bernama.

The water level at the Beris Dam was at critical level, recording a reading of 26.43% compared with 38.99% on April 17.

The water levels of two dams in Langkawi, namely the Padang Saga Dam and Malut Dam, recorded a reading of 39.41% and 50.58%, respectively. - Bernama

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