Hot weather affecting padi yields

Keeping pest away: Padi farmer Hazman Hamid, 47, of Kampung Besar, Mukim Padang Hang near Gunung Keriang, Kedah, spraying pesticides on his padi field. — GC TAN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Padi production in parts of Kelantan, northern Perak and Penang has been affected by low yield due to the hot spell. However, contingency plans are in place to ensure the situation does not worsen.

Principal assistant secretary of the Rice Industry Development Division of the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry, Mohammad Noor Akmal Mat Isa, said Kelantan was the worst affected by the dry weather.

“For now, Kelantan has recorded a significant 20% decrease in padi production, especially in the Pasir Puteh area.

“This is considered a drastic drop,” he said.

To address this situation, Kelantan’s Kemubu Agricultural Development Authority has launched a few initiatives such as distributing reversing pumps and portable pumps, as well as repairing the drainage system to ensure padi fields can continue to be irrigated.

Mohammad Noor Akmal said the Bukit Merah dam in Perak had started to dry up, with water for agricultural use potentially being suspended.

This will affect padi fields in the Kerian area, as well as in Penang.

“The dam is for domestic, industry and agriculture use. When the level of the dam decreases, water will not be channelled for agriculture as domestic use will be prioritised.

“The Kerian Integrated Agricultural Development Area has started to monitor the situation and preparing necessary actions,” he said.

Fortunately, the situation is not as critical as last year where water for domestic use was unavailable.

“If the situation worsens, we can initiate cloud seeding operations to increase the water level of the dam similar to last year,” he said.

Padi farmers in Sungai Besar, Selangor, have also reported a drop in production during the past few harvesting seasons.

“Previously, we could get six to eight tonnes of yield. But in more recent seasons, we could only get two to four tonnes, and sometimes only one tonne,” he said.

Currently, irrigation projects are underway to improve the infrastructure system at padi fields.

“Hopefully, this will help increase the yield once the projects are completed,” he said.

Padi producer and rice miller Ezreen Muhaizie Marzukhi said farmers were using silica to increase the resistance of padi to drought and heat stroke.

“According to the International Rice Research Institute, to produce 1kg of rice, we need almost 1.5 tonnes of water.

“So, you can imagine how much water is needed to produce 2.8 million tonnes of padi yearly in Malaysia.

“The crop is reliant on a water-intensive growing system, where any shortage of water during the planting and growing phases will affect the potential yield.

“If the water is constrained during the early phase or vegetative phase, the tendency of the padi to die is higher,” he said.

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