Water shortage to hurt KKP Limau Manis rice output

National 3 minutes, 0 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

RICE farmers at the Limau Manis Agricultural Development Area (KKP Limau Manis) are expecting a drop in output due to lack of water supply at the padi fields since January this year.

When interviewed by The Brunei Times, the farmers said they have been unable to properly cultivate rice and are unsure whether they will plant again in the next cycle.

One of the farmers, Yunus Hj Ibrahim, said rice cultivation are heavily dependent on water not just for its natural growth but also for the pesticides, fertilisers and other inputs to be effective.

“I planted my current crop in January which I will harvest very soon but I can tell just by looking that the yield will not be as bountiful as previous crops because they have not received enough water during growth,” said the ex-military man.

“I have even resorted to pumping water from the drains and canals in the past few months to ensure that my current crop at least did not fail,” he said.

Another farmer, Ahmad Syahri, said since rice farmers at KKP Limau Manis have not been given assurances that the water supply will return to a consistent level, it is unlikely that he or other rice farmers at the area will plant again after harvesting their current crops.

“The water supply only comes at wide intervals and you never know how long each interval will last before it is cut off again so this does not make us confident that it will be enough to grow rice properly,” he said.

The padi fields at KKP Limau Manis are shared between commercial rice farmers and members of the Limau Manis Village Consultative Council who grow rice as a cooperative.

A commercial rice farmer at KKP Limau Manis, Nurhumaizi Hj Mohd Salleh, said that he has missed out on an estimated $112,000 in revenue after being unable to plant his BDR5-strain rice again after the previous harvest.

“We were supposed to plant the seedlings in February for the next cycle and harvest at the end of this month (May) so we have missed out on the income of one harvesting season and are in danger of missing out on the next one if water supply does not return to normal,” he said.

“We did not try to plant (rice seedlings) again after the last harvest in January as we foresaw that the water supply would not be available for us to cultivate the rice so we were not confident that the rice could grow without the water supply from the pipes.”

He said that although the month of May usually sees heavy rainfall, he is not confident that it will be the same this year due to the extreme weather conditions the country has seen thus far this year.

“Obviously, if the rice plants do not receive enough water, they will die so we were not going to risk losing our capital on the hope that there would be heavy rains as it has been hotter than usual this year,” he said.

He said that he has tried to contact the authorities through the 123 Darussalam hotline but was not given a definitive answer on why the water supply has been unreliable and intermittent in the past few months.

Officials at the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood did not immediately respond to requests for comments yesterday.

In a previous report, the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism said that the ministry is no longer focusing on rice production targets, instead looking to increasing the yield per hectare of rice farming.

The Brunei Times