Protecting Kedah’s padi fields against La Nina


Current numbers: The water level at the Ayer Itam Dam was at 47.4%, Teluk Bahang Dam at 45.7% and Mengkuang Dam at 84.6% as of yesterday. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

ALOR SETAR: Kedah is bracing for unpredictable skies brought on by the weather phenomenon called La Nina, and is striving to protect its padi fields against the risk of drought or torrential rain.

State agriculture and food industry committee chairman Datuk Azman Nasrudin said unpredictable weather would have a significant impact on water resources.

“According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), La Nina is expected to continue until December and the southwest monsoon until mid-September.“The climate can cause significant temperature and rain changes, which can cause disaster,” he said.

The country’s rice production is at risk, and Azman said the Kedah government was closely monitoring weather changes.

He said the state government, through the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada), had so far been able to control the water flowing into irrigation canals.

He said as of yesterday, the average rainfall in Muda Forest Reserve was about 1,219mm, more than enough for the next padi season planting.

The problem is with the ripe, golden padi fields.

Azman said that as of Aug 10, 9.3% of Kedah’s padi fields were harvested and the rest must also be harvested during this wet season.

“Mada dams have more than enough water to serve the farmers’ needs with the Pedu Dam recording a water level of 95.5%%, Muda Dam at 102.2% and Ahning Dam at 90.59%,” he added.

A padi farmer in Pendang, Abdullah Mohamad, said the planting season in Kedah had been good so far.

“The water supply has been good and we are entering the second planting season soon,” he said.

But the 55-yer-old observed a pest attack on his harvest, which has been going on for a few years.

He said some of the farmers lost about 50% of their income from pestilence and hoped that the new planting season could make up for the loss.

On Penang island, the most heavily taxed impoundment, the Ayer Itam Dam, is now 47% full and has swelled in the last two months.

But Penang Water Supply Corporation chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jaseni Maidinsa said cloud seeding was still being planned as a contingency to ensure sufficient water supply.

This dam serves 180,000 residents in Ayer Itam, Paya Terubong and Jalan Masjid Negeri, the most densely packed area in Penang.

In June, the state government appointed a company to carry out cloud-seeding 12 times for RM492,000 from June 10 to Dec 15.

Perlis natural resources and environment committee chairman Teh Chai Aan said the state’s Timah Tasoh Dam was operating smoothly.

He said the state government had forwarded an application for additional funds to upgrade the main piping from the dam to supply water to the public.

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