Kedah’s burning problem


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 23 Mar 2016

ALOR SETAR: As the sun bakes the land to a crisp, scorched padi fields spanning the horizon throughout Kedah and Perlis bear the evidence of open burning.

The authorities are not happy with this.

“No, they are not allowed to do it,” said Kedah Agriculture committee chairman Datuk Suraya Yaacob stonily.

“We know they need to. Burning rice fields after a harvest is the fastest way to kill off all the insects and fungal spores before the next planting,” she said in an interview.

The fires that farmers start have a tendency to go out of control.

Along the 40km-long Jalan Kangar-Alor Setar route, where padi fields line both sides of the road, many trees have been charred by fire.

One such tree on the 16th km marker burnt for a week until it fell a few days ago.

The tree snagged telephone wires when it fell.

It now leans at an awkward angle, supported by the wires.

Motorcyclist Abdul Khadir Said, 65, who rides along the route daily, said he saw the padi field on fire over a week ago.

“The wind swept the fire up to the dry bushes by the road and then this tree caught fire,” he said.

The padi plot’s farmer Ahmad Md Nor, 75, who lives across the road, said he had been burning his field every dry season for decades.

He didn’t expect the tree trunk to burn for a long time.

Ahmad admitted that when the fires were raging a few days ago, smoke had obscured the road and caused a minor car accident not far from his house.

In Arau, Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute station manager Othman Ismail said dried padi stalks left on the field were usually burnt as it was the most cost-efficient method of pest control.

He recalled that in previous de­cades, the intentional burning was so severe that farmers could end up setting whole villages on fire.

But they have learned to take turns and stagger the burning to avoid an all-out conflagration.

“If the padi stalks are left to rot, bacteria will fester and attack the next batch. There are also many damaging insects hiding in the stalks that will thrive with the next planting.”

State Environment Committee chairman Datuk Dr Leong Yong Kong said padi farmers were allowed to burn their fields under the supervision of an agriculture officer who would set certain conditions.

“They should make an appointment with the Agriculture Department to have an officer pre­sent when they burn their fields. Otherwise, it’s an illegal burning.”

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 0
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Family & Community , kedahans.

   

Next In Nation

Dr Wee meets tourism players to develop tourism industry in Malaysia and China
10 nabbed as MMEA foils RM3mil diesel smuggling bid off Kota Tinggi
Two friends escape gallows, get 12 years’ jail, whipping for drug possession
Johor MACC nabs lab worker for taking bribes to fix drug test results
Taxi, ehailing connections could help boost take-up of rail services, says Loke
MAIPs allowed to intervene in custody order granted to single mum Loh
1MDB trial: Ex-banker says never struck her someone would use Najib's account for money laundering
Man jailed five years in Kuala Pilah after pleading guilty to weapons charge
Hajiji in safe position following opposition defections, says political analyst
High Court dismisses petition, Mas Ermieyati remains Masjid Tanah MP

Others Also Read