Concerns over vegetation if hot weather continues

Farmers using plastic shields to protect the crops at a farm. – Filepic

JOHOR BARU: The Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers’ Associations is worried that the vegetable supply in the country might be affected if the hot weather caused by El Nino persists.

Its president Tan So Tiok said the prolonged heatwave and drop in rainfall of 20% to 60% might cause disruptions in water supply, which is the most important element in growing the crops.

He said the last time that vegetable supply in the country was affected by the hot weather was in 2014 where it dropped by about 30%.

“There was very little rain back then and the dry spell lasted from January to April, which was bad news for our farmers as rivers and dams dried up,” he said.

Tan said so far, the vegetable supply in the country is still adequate but was worried that if the hot spell goes on until June as predicted, water supply would be affected and cause the overpopulation of insects that could destroy crops.

He said that during last year’s hot spell, also around March, crops were not affected as much as there was still enough water supply to ensure their growth.

“The crops could still grow well in hot weather as long as there is enough water,” he said, adding that a letter had been sent to the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry director-general about the federation’s concerns.

Tan added that Johor produced the most vegetables and supplied some 60% of the nation’s supply, followed by Perak.

The federation, which has about 6,000 members, records a yearly supply of 800,000 tonnes to 900,000 tonnes. About 25% of the amount is exported to Singapore.

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