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Salient. Newspaper of Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Vol 41 No. 3. March 13 1978

Rice Crop Disaster

Rice Crop Disaster

Sever drought in north Malaya has so depleted the irrigation dams that the Malysian government has decided to abandon the off-season padi crop in the Kuala Muda irrigation scheme area, which covers 230,000 acres in Kedah and Perlis. This will result in the loss of 235,000 tons of rice valued at $169 million, and will adversely effect the livlihood of the 60,000 families families in the area.

According to the chairman of the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA), Datuk Syed Nahar Shahabuddin, the depletion of the dams was due to a series of events. Serious drought in late 1976 and early 1977 had reduced water reserves by half by September last year.

Furthermore, the absence of expected heavy rainfall at the end of last year meant that water from the dams had to be released to save the current main-season padi crop from withering, thereby further depleting water reserves which should have been used on the next (off-season) crop to be planted in March this year. Consequently the dams presently do not have adequate reserves to water the padi fields in the Muda area to a height of at least 6 inches throughout the maturing period of the high yeilding variety (HYV) rice plants, which is essential to ensure a good yeild. In the light of the severe water shortage the government has decided to abandon the off-season crop, and water will not be released by MADA for irrigation purpose during that period.