Drought Forces Farmers To Cultivate Alternative Crops
The current extreme hot and dry weather conditions have forced farmers in Seberang Perai, Penang to cultivate alternative crops to ensure that their source of income is not affected.
Paddy farmer Mohd Yusri Mustafa, 42, said the drought had caused the yield of paddy crops under the Padang Tembusu Area Farmers Organisation (PPK) in Penaga, near here, to drop by 40 percent or RM30,000.
“We usually experience drought from January to now. I need to find a way to continue to feed my family by cultivating papaya, corn, and eggplant because there is no other way,” he told reporters when met at Kampung Baru, Penaga today.
He said this was the first time he had planted papaya since becoming a farmer 23 years ago and, that too, based on input from his experienced farmer friends.
“I have planted about 600 papaya trees in an area of about 1.52 hectares and, since it was my first time (planting papaya trees and others), it cost me about RM15,000, including for the irrigation pipes,” said the father of four.
He hoped that authorities like the National Farmers Organisation (Nafas) and the local PPK would improve their existing agricultural strategies to help farmers affected by the drought, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This situation is putting pressure on us because some of us are short of funds, more so since our paddy yields also dropped last season,” he said.
A check by Bernama found that most of the paddy fields in the area had been ploughed after the harvesting process in mid-February was completed and the farmers are now just waiting for water supply to be channelled to the paddy fields.
Meanwhile, another farmer, Ismail Che Mat, 68, said getting sufficient water during the dry season was a problem and this caused most of the fields to be barren.
“No decision has been made by the Agriculture Department on water scheduling here. The low water pressure has also caused the planting of seedlings to be postponed,” he said.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department previously stated the country is currently experiencing the final phase of the Northeast Monsoon season, which is expected to continue until the middle of this month, with low rainfall projected, especially in the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia.
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