Kedah padi farmers ‘channel’ ways to battle heatwave

A padi farmer working at a padi field during the last harvesting season. //Provided Pix // 19 April 2024

ALOR SETAR: Padi farmers in Kedah are facing a double whammy – hot spell and lack of padi seeds – even as the new planting season is about to start soon.

Many have begun exploring various moves to mitigate the impact of the hot weather.

Abdul Kadir Ismail, 68, from Kuala Nerang, said they have been adopting water conservation techniques and implementing shade structures to protect their crops from excessive heat.

The Naka Farmers Association (PPK) unit chief said some farmers forked out money to build irrigations system that channelled water from nearby hills.

“We can’t just be waiting for rain. Digging our own channel is good enough to solve the problem for now,” he said.

Abdul Kadir, who has been a padi farmer for more than 40 years, said prolonged exposure to the hot temperature could badly affect padi plants, including its growth and quality.

He said farmers, especially in Kuala Nerang, Padang Terap, Pendang and Baling, relied mainly on favourable weather conditions for a successful planting season as the areas are not under the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada).

“We have been facing the dry season for several months now, and if this continues, we could face trouble,” he said.

This year, farmers under Mada have started the new five-season padi crops within a two-year programme, where the government has pledged to allocate RM3bil to upgrade infrastructure.

Despite efforts to adapt, Abdul Kadir said the delay in receiving padi seeds, affecting more than 20 farmers, posed a significant ahead of the planting season.

Wan Maharuddin Sulaiman, 67, another padi farmer from Pokok Sena, said it was quite difficult to foresee how the new planting season would pan out with the erratic weather condition.

Wan Maharuddin said he hoped that the padi seeds would be sufficient when the new planting season begins.

“Although the padi seed prices have been adjusted to RM54 per 20kg packet, I hope there would be no manipulation by certain parties.

“It is still too early to evaluate how the new prices of padi seeds could benefit us,” he said.

During a Hari Raya open house on April 18, Mada chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Salleh announced that 1.5 million 20kg packets of certified padi seeds had been distributed to meet the demand of farmers.

He said the supply of such seeds would be made available through accredited retailers for the new planting season, adding that the padi seed prices had been adjusted to prevent supply disruptions.

There are slightly over 100,000ha of padi farming areas under Mada’s supervision in Kedah and Perlis.

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