Farmers see late harvest due to recent dry spell

National 2 minutes, 42 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

COMMERCIAL rice farmers at the Limau Manis Agriculture Development Area (KKP Limau Manis) have yet to plant despite the monsoon rains returning this month.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, one of the farmers said that although normally they would have planted by now, the padi fields are not flooded enough to plant following the unusually dry weather in previous months.

“We (farmers) were already planting by this time last year but we have been unable to do anything as the small drought these past few months have hardened the soil so we are now only starting to prepare the fields for transplanting (the seedlings),” said Hj Jahari Hj Mohammad.

“I am grateful that it has rained but the field is not flooded enough for the (ploughing) machines to work properly so transplanting will have to wait another month as we first have to return the fields to the state it was in before it got dry,” he said.

Hj Jahari said that he has resorted to planting maize, which is a much less water-intensive crop, at his padi fields during the dry season in an attempt to recoup his losses and help pay his workers’ wages.

A farm worker at KKP Limau Manis said that due to weather conditions that befell the country this year, he would only be harvesting once this year if all goes well.

“Our crops earlier this year died off due to the dry weather and lack of water supply and because of the dry weather, we will only be planting in July and harvest sometime in November but normally we would have at least two harvests in a year,” said Santoso.

“However, I hope the rain will not stop because it is our only source of water at the moment or else our crops will fail again just like the previous cycle,” he said.

It was previously reported that farmers at KKP Limau Manis had already expected a drop in output due to lack of water supply at the padi fields since January this year, with one farmer estimating that he had missed out on $112,000 in revenue due to the dry and hot weather conditions earlier this year.

The village head of Kg Limau Manis, Hj Mohimin Hj Johari @ Jahari, encouraged the farmers whose enterprises were affected by the unusually dry spell to be more creative in sourcing water in the future.

“I have seen in Indonesia how farmers dug 60 metres into the ground and used rudimentary windmills to irrigate their fields so I am sure it can also be done here if it is tried,” he said. Hj Mohimin, who also has an interest in the padi fields at KKP Limau Manis through the lots allocated to the Limau Manis Village Consultative Council (MPK Limau Manis), said that he hopes the problem of water supply can be resolved soon.

“When we (MPK Limau Manis) first planted here in 2008, we experienced similar problems with irrigation as the water supply infrastructure was not adequate enough back then and it took around five years before the problem was satisfactorily resolved so I hope the commercial farmers here will be patient and not to give up on finding the solution,” he said.

The Brunei Times