Farmers lament loss of crops

SEGAMAT: Thousands of ringgit worth of vegetables are underwater, leaving villagers in Kampung Kuala Paya here shattered by the devastation of their crops from continuous heavy rain since Tuesday.

They had planted their crops in the first week of February thinking the monsoon season was finally over.

Nor Azizi Zaini said the floods had inundated his 2ha farm where he grows long beans, cucumber and bitter gourd.

“Usually, floodwaters would only be about ankle-high. This is by far the worst experience we have had as the water is chest-high.

“You can’t even see the support rack for the veggies as the flood has washed away everything,” he said.

The 26-year-old added that his losses amounted to least RM20,000.

Nor Azizi said he has been working on his family farm for the past five years and had planned to use the money from his harvest to buy necessities for Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“What hurts the most was that I had planned to harvest my cucumbers last week, but decided to wait a bit longer to make sure they had really matured,” he added.

Joha Bakar has been farming his family’s land here for the past 14 years and it is his main source of income.

The 45-year-old said he used to be self-employed but decided to use the more than 1.2ha plot behind his house to generate an income.

He said the plot is located next to a Sungai Muar tributary and is perfect for planting long beans and cucumber.

Joha also said the floodwaters here were usually just ankle- or knee-high.

He added that his crops were grown on raised wooden beds and were usually not affected when it floods, but this time even the wooden support was gone.

Worse, his vegetables were ready for harvest and he estimates his losses at about RM30,000.

He now plans to use his savings to repair some of the damage caused by the flood.

Mohamad Shafiee Sham Zulkafli, 31, said he spent more than RM11,000 to grow cucumbers on his mother-in-law’s land a year ago, but managed to make only RM10,000 in profit so far.

“I don’t know how to explain this, but it seems like every time the cucumbers mature, floods will occur, and somehow I only managed to save some of my crop.

“Over the past year, I only managed to harvest the cucumbers three times and since the land is located right next to the river, any excess water would actually damage the plant, especially during the rainy season,” he said.

Johor agriculture, agro-based industry and rural development committee chairman Datuk Zahari Sarip, who visited the village, said the Federal Government had allocated RM80mil to the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry for the Agriculture Disaster Fund.

“Any farmers who have been affected by the floods can apply for this aid through the Agriculture Department by filling up an application form and providing supporting documents such as pictures of their damaged farms.

“This fund does not only cover damage caused by floods, but also other incidents as well, such as fire, landslides, thunderstorms, and others.

“The aid will be given in the form of plant seeds, fertilisers, and farming tools, machinery, and equipment,” he said, adding that the Johor Agriculture Department is currently assessing the total flood damage to plantations and farms in the state.

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