Penang paddy farmers suffer losses due to bacterial blight

Azahri Hariff holding up stalks of affected rice plants. BPB has left much of his crop half-filled or empty of grain.

BALIK PULAU: More than 50 rice farmers in the Sungai Burung area here have to bear losses after more than 121ha of rice fields produced half-filled or empty grain, following an attack of 'hawar bulir bakteria' (bacterial panicle blight or BPB).

This grim situation has affected the paddy farmers' income and is even more distressing when it happens when they need money for daily expenses during the post-pandemic recovery phase.

One of them, Azahri Hariff, 44, who cultivates 14ha of rice fields in Sungai Burung said that every season he would spend RM60 thousand on his land to cultivate paddy.

However, when he checked his paddy fields recently, he found that most of the plants were attacked by BPB disease which would affect the production of rice.

"Every rice harvest season, I can produce between 80 and 90 tonnes of rice but this season the production is affected due to the disease.

"I believe that the BPB disease that is attacking the rice fields in the Sungai Burung area is caused by the unpredictable weather changes that are currently affecting the country," he told Bernama recently.

He added that he was concerned to see the condition of the paddy fields in the area that were attacked by BPB disease and farmers such as himself would suffer losses.

Azahri hoped that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries could help paddy farmers whose income was affected by the disease.

Another rice farmer in Sungai Burung, Talib Hamid, 70, claimed that this season he only managed to harvest five tonnes of rice from his 2.02 hectare of land, compared with the usual 15 to 16 tonnes.

Talib said that this was the first time his paddy was attacked by the disease which affected his rice yields. - Bernama

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