KEPALA BATAS: The rat infestation in Penang’s padi fields has been declared a natural disaster and affected farmers will get aid from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry’s disaster relief fund.
Its deputy minister Sim Tze Tzin said the farmer’s losses were being assessed to determine the aid amount.
“As for the rats, we have been spreading rice grains laced with rodenticide since June.
“Our officers have reported that the rat population is under control and will not spread to other areas,” said Sim, who is also PKR’s Bayan Baru MP.
Other padi farmers, he said, had been told to contact the ministry’s Integrated Agriculture Development Area, which helps to manage crop production, should they see more rats than usual in their fields.
Rats have swum down from jungles upriver with the flood that hit mainland Penang last November.
Many low-lying areas stayed submerged for up to three days after the storm as every river on the mainland had burst its banks, with water gushing down for days from mountains as far as the Ulu Muda region along the Kedah-Thai border.
The rats found themselves in padi fields, most of which line river banks.
Sim said out of the 29ha of padi fields in Paya Keladi near here being plagued by rats, 3ha were a total loss while others faced various stages of destruction.