Kedah farmers hit by weather and water woes

PETALING JAYA: Kedah, the nation’s rice bowl, is reeling from the effects of the ongoing drought.

The Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) has implemented proactive measures to prevent more severe losses from the heat’s impact on rice production.

Its general manager Kamarudin Dahuli said the average rainfall in the Muda region up to June 13 recorded a lower reading of 602mm during the planting season compared with the 20-year average rainfall of 656mm.

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This indicated an 8% reduction in rainfall, he added.

He said the prolonged drought has had a negative impact on plant growth, causing leaves to burn and fall – as well as making them more susceptible to pests and diseases.

“This situation disrupts the process of nutrient and water uptake and photosynthesis, resulting in a significant decline in padi yield.

“Padi plants exposed to these conditions will show early symptoms such as poor seed germination and limited seedling growth, which tend to lower the quality and overall production of padi,” he added.

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Kamarudin said consequently, reduction in the padi yield will directly hit farmers.

“The current padi planting season in Muda refers to Season 1/2024, which is ongoing. This season started on April 17 and the padi planting status was recorded at 63.6% out of the total 100,641ha,” he said when contacted.

He said water releases from dams were usually carried out to meet irrigation and domestic water supply needs.

As of June 13, he said the overall status of reservoirs under Mada’s supervision showed the Pedu Dam at 56.89%, Muda Dam at 26.08% and Ahning Dam at 85.16%.

“The total capacity of the three dams is 720,253 acre-feet. This indicates that the reservoirs are still in normal condition and capable of meeting irrigation needs for successful padi planting in Season 1/2024,” he added.

Acre-foot is a common way to measure water volume and use. It is the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land one foot deep.

Kamarudin said the measures being taken include maximising the use of pump stations to conserve dam water, operating mobile pumps to supply water to highland and problematic areas, conducting rotational irrigation water supply operations according to the needs of farming activities in each region based on the planting phase, as well as implementing cloud seeding operations as required.

“Cooperation from farmers is essential to manage water prudently at padi fields. This is to ensure water is distributed properly to avoid wastage.

“The development programme towards compliance with the planting schedule at the area level will continue to ensure that all activities for Season 1/2024 are completed fully,” he added.

Kedah contributes 37% of the total national rice production, followed by Kelantan (12%), Perak (11%) and Perlis (9%).

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drought , rice , padi


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