Farmers worry about recovery from floods

JOHOR BARU: The sight of their farms being destroyed by the ongoing flood has brought back devastating scenes of the floods in 2006 and 2007 to Johor farmers.

Tan Huat Chai, 64, who owns a 24ha fruit farm in Kahang, said it took almost a year for his farm to recover and his crops to fully grow again after the floods in 2006.

“Although we experience floods almost every year here, the one that hit Johor on New Year’s Day this year is one of the worst we have seen. It was as bad or even worse than the floods of 2006 and 2007.

“I have not been able to go to my farm since Jan 2 as the whole area, including the roads leading up to the farm, are still submerged.”

Tan said his main concern was that the floods would recur a few weeks after the water had receded, as it did 15 years ago.

“I was told that it would take three to four days for the water to subside and for me to be able to start cleaning up and planting again, ” he said, adding that damage caused by floods depended on the length of the inundation.

Tan added that it would be more difficult for him and other farmers to bounce back from the floods this time as many of them were still trying to recover from the impact of Covid-19 and labour shortage.

Another farmer in Kahang, who only wanted to be known as Ng, said the lack of manpower would be the main challenge for farmers recovering from the natural disaster. “A majority of foreign labourers have returned to their home countries since early last year due to the pandemic.

“Mending the damage caused by the flood and working on getting things back to normal will surely be a lot harder this time as we do not have enough workers, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers Association president Lim Ser Kwee, who also owns a farm in Simpang Renggam, Johor, said while farmers were expecting floods, they did not expect it to be of such a magnitude.

“We were prepared for it as it was normal for us to encounter such weather at the end or start of the year. However, we did not expect it to be this bad, ” he added.

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