Malaysia: Farmers suffer losses after blight destroys crops

ALLISON LAI and ADRIAN CHAN The Star 6 Dec 16;

SABAK BERNAM: A bacterial infection has destroyed the padi fields here, leaving farmers with heavy losses.

It is learned that some 4,440ha of padi fields in Sabak Bernam have been infected with the bacterial leaf blight (BLB) disease, which dries up the leaves and kills the plants.

The BLB infection this time is more serious than the previous one, which occurred during the second harvest season in 2013, said state infrastructure, public amenities, agricultural modernisation and agro-based industries exco Zaidy Abdul Talib.

The state will discuss the problem in the coming state Exco meeting tomorrow and also the Selangor Economic Action Council (MTES)meeting on Thursday.

“We will find ways to overcome this problem, either with chemical or organic treatment,” he said yesterday.

Zaidy visited some of the affected rice fields with Sekinchan assemblyman Ng Suee Lim and representatives from other agencies yesterday.

He said the Agriculture Department has been collecting data on the affected seedlings, fields and also the operators following the infection.

Ng said that the infection was the worst in 30 years in Sekinchan.

The crops were slashed between 50% to 70% following the infection, with more than 90% of the 1,296ha of padi fields here affected.

The loss is estimated to be more than RM5mil, he said, adding that most of the affected farmers planted the latest MR284 seedlings this year.

Besides, they also planted other varieties such as MR220, MR219 and MR263. But all of them, including MR284, are not resilient varieties, especially against BLB.

Sekinchan’s farm operators unit chairman Sam Fai hoped the authorities will take their plight into consideration and help reduce wet paddy deduction from 22% to 17%.

Wet paddy is deducted for its water content before being sold to Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas).

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