Higher-yield padi farmers worry about impact of wet weather

ALOR SETAR: When padi fields turn golden as the grains ripen, the last thing farmers want is a thunderstorm.

The current erratic weather, strongly believed to be the result of climate change, has kept Kedah padi farmers on their toes because they have switched to a schedule that would allow them to harvest five times every two years.

However, farmers here have been able to stick to the schedule and yield results this year.

Mohd Haniff Darus, 36, finished his first harvest in early September, and is now preparing for the second planting season at his padi fields in Kampung Sedaka, near Yan.

“Although there was occasional rain, the harvest from the first planting season was not that bad,” he said yesterday.

Abdul Rahman Mohammad, 65, from Pendang, admits the unpredictable weather had been making him and his fellow farmers uneasy.

“When our padi is ripening, we must drain out all the water and if there is heavy rain, the fields can get flooded and this will affect the rice yield,” he said.

By strictly following the planting schedule laid down by the authorities, the yield of rice grains from his fields had been stable despite the “weird” weather.

To achieve five harvests every two years, padi farmers must adhere to a planting schedule prepared by agricultural experts, right down to the specific days to begin specific phases of the planting, such as seeding, transplanting, fertiliser and pesticide applications and finally harvesting.

Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Salleh said that besides ample water resources, farmers should follow the well-structured timeline created by Mada to optimise yield.

“We created the schedule according to weather forecasts and padi growth phases.

“If they follow this schedule strictly, they will not have problems with their crops,” he said.

Ismail lamented the fact that only 12% of all padi farmers under Mada’s purview followed the schedule.

He said to improve the situation, Mada had organised a campaign to raise awareness among padi farmers about the importance of following the schedule.

The first season of padi planting was between March and September, while the second season starts this month.

Ismail gave assurance that Mada would maintain the infrastructure such as irrigation canals.

“If they have problems like the irrigation canals being blocked and causing flooding, Mada will send a technical team to rectify the problem,” he said.

Should padi field flooding cause total destruction of the crop, Mada will conduct an investigation and gauge the extent of damage.

Ismail said farmers who suffer losses in such a way would be compensated with payments of up to RM1,800 per hectare.

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