Heat wave takes toll on paddy fields, rubber plantations

Abdul Rashid might not replant his padi field after it dried up. — Picture by R. Mahgeshan
Abdul Rashid might not replant his padi field after it dried up. — Picture by R. Mahgeshan

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KANGAR, March 21 — Padi growers and rubber planters here are worried about how they are going to put food on the table as the heatwave turns their land into a tinder box.

Padi farmer Abdul Rashid Man, 52, said he would normally have planted the seedlings in the fields by now, but his land was completely dried up as there had been no rain for more than a month. 

Last season, he managed to harvest about 12 tonnes of padi and earned more than RM15,000.

“I fear I may lose about 50 per cent of the yield in the next harvest. I am contemplating whether or not to replant or to give up re-planting for the next season.” said Rashid, who owns a large padi field in Kampung Gial Mata Air about 2km from Chuping

Roslan Jahaya, 41, who owns three acres of padi field, also expected a 50 per cent drop in yield if he replants for the next season. 

“I managed to harvest more than nine tonnes of padi during the last season and there will be a shortfall in the next season,” he said.

“I hope there will be rainfall early next month. I am planning to do odd jobs to get some income. I have to wait till July or August to plant padi again.”

Mohamad Saufi Abdul Hamid, 27, said he was confident rain would come next month.

“I am taking a risk by tending to the field and preparing it for re-planting,” he said when met his padi field early yesterday morning.

Rubber tapper Kamaruddin Hamid, 37, said he experienced a 30 per cent drop in latex production from his rubber plantation in Gua Nangka here because of the prolonged dry spell.

“The heatwave has caused me more than RM2,000 in losses during the last two months,” he said. 

“Luckily, I do some part-time job at the sugar factory near Chuping.”

His friend, Ariffin Ahmad, 42, who has 0.2ha land, said that although production from rubber trees was not good, he had planted some cash crops like bananas and papayas to supplement his income.

“I am also hoping for rainfall and changes in the weather condition so that the yield of the cash crops will be good,” he said.

Villagers in the area were alerted of the equinox and had taken precautions.

A check by Malay Mail showed there were no incidents of people fainting or collapsing due to the extreme weather condition that had affected the state.   

Despite the extreme heat, however, a bird-singing contest was held in the area, which had attracted more than 30 participants.

“I come whenever there are competitions organised but today, there are fewer people. I guess it’s because it’s very hot,” said a  participant, Zamani Bakchik, 36, who entered his three “Merbah Jambul” birds.

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