Birds continue to pester Kg Batong padi farmers

National 2 minutes, 19 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

RICE farmers at Kg Batong are grappling with a serious bird pest problem as hundreds of small birds descend on the padi fields to feed, hampering the farmers’ ability to meet production targets.

One of the farmers, Suhaili Hj Chuchu, told The Brunei Times that the bird pests, which feed in the early morning or late evening when the day is cooler, are the only problem he faces in reaching his targets.

“It is a shame because all the other operational aspects like the water supply, fertilisers and pesticides are without problems but if not for the pests, we would have easily met our production target of two and a half tonnes per hectare,” said the ex-army retiree.

“Last year, I only managed to produce three tones for all eight hectares of my allocated lots due to many factors such as lack of manpower and capital, although I would say that the bird pests were also a major contributing factor,” he said.

Suhaili said that finding a viable solution with his limited resources would be costly and would not guarantee success.

“To properly cover all eight hectares of my padi fields with high nets, I would need to spend roughly $10,000 and even if I had that much money at hand, it would be wiser to put that amount into planting rice rather than buy (the nets),” he said.

A farm worker at Kg Batong, known only as Dhani, said that the birds there were immune to traditional methods of pest control such as scarecrows or rattling empty tin cans tied on a string.

“We (farmers) have now resorted to using airhorns that we constantly blare every early morning and evening which is unpleasant because it is annoying and yet the birds would not move or fly away,” he said.

“We are running out of ideas because it is not easy to catch these birds with traps as they do not nest around here and only appear at dawn and in the evening to feed on the padi,” he said.

Another farm worker, Rahmat Mohammad, said that the small birds do not have many natural predators in the area which made controlling their population difficult.

“If there was a rat problem, I would introduce a cat or even a snake to try and control the population but these birds are safe as long as they are in the air,” he said.

“The pesticides that we have only ward off insects and those strong enough to kill the birds would likely kill off our plants as well,” he said.

The padi fields at Kg Batong, which are operated by commercial farmers, have been in operation for only two years and are located at the district’s rice farming heartland in Mukim Pengkalan Batu.

The Brunei Times