Climate change puts national rice security at risk – Minister

kuala lumpur (Bernama) – Climate change is threatening production levels of rice, Malaysia’s staple food, and this is expected to have a negative impact on the country’s rice security.

The effects of climate change have become increasingly pronounced in recent years, increasing the risk of natural disasters such as floods and prolonged droughts, while changes in the rainy season and rising sea levels are impacting water availability. .

According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (MAFI), between 2017 and 2021, a total of 40,828.28 hectares of rice fields were destroyed by floods across the country, and another 9,336.45 hectares were damaged by drought.

In a recent interview with Bernama, Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandi said that Malaysia’s food security is at 10% based on the country’s rainfall records over 40 years, i.e. from 1978 to 1978. He said it was affected by an increase in average annual rainfall from year to year. And in 2017.

Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandi. — Photo provided by MAFI

Meanwhile, MAFI has also increased the size of regions experiencing a decrease in annual average rainfall distribution, particularly in the west coast and southern and central parts of Peninsular Malaysia, such as the Sungai Pahang and Sungai Kuantan basins. I have also observed that.

Mr Ronald said that according to Malaysia’s 3rd National News Agency (TNC) and 2nd Biennial Update Report (BUR), 18% of the 350,000 hectares of rice fields are frequently exposed to prolonged drought. Ta. The affected rice fields were located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

“Yet, the proportion of paddy fields destroyed by floods is higher. The report (TNC and BUR) also states that 25 percent of the paddy fields cultivated by the Chembu Agricultural Development Board are affected by this phenomenon (extreme rainfall). I predicted it would be deafening.”

Paddy field remodeling plan

Mr Ronald said that based on the Malaysian Meteorological Department’s (Met Malaysia) report titled “Climate Change Scenarios for Malaysia from 2001 to 2099”, since 2005, Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak have experienced dry conditions. He said the frequency of hot weather events is increasing.

Long periods of heat and drought were recorded in Malaysia in 1982, 1983, 1997, 1998, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2020. The main reason for the continued drought was the effect of the El Niño phenomenon that hit Southeast Asia. frequently.

“Prolonged droughts can increase temperature and humidity levels, increase pest infestation, and cause outbreaks of certain diseases that affect rice crops,” he said.

Photos are for illustrative purposes only. — Photo Bernama (2021) Copyright reserved

Farmers facing this situation are suffering losses, with affected paddy crops in Peninsular Malaysia recording the highest losses compared to other food crops.

Data on aid applications under MAFI’s Agricultural Disaster Fund (compensation for farmers whose crops are destroyed due to natural disasters) from 2017 to 2021 shows that rice production cost a total of RM21.6 million due to drought and RM128.8 million due to floods. It is shown that the damage was done by Ringgit. .

For other agro-food crops such as fruits, vegetables, cash crops and high-value commercial crops, the flood damage during the same period was estimated at RM21.4 million, involving 1,944.57 hectares of land.

Recognizing the impact of climate change on the country’s food security, the Minister said that MAFI will support the paddy and rice industry through the National Food Security Policy Action Plan (DSMN) 2021-2025 aimed at revitalizing the paddy fields. He said he was drafting an initiative for comprehensive transformation of the country. Production volume and farmers’ income.

infographics. — Bernama (2021) All Rights Reserved

“DSMN 2021-2025 also highlights research and development efforts to enhance food production using climate-based technologies.

“This is because in the (recently announced) 12th Malaysia Plan, the government is focused on increasing self-sufficiency in rice production to 75 per cent by 2025,” he explained.

To achieve this goal, MAFI has undertaken various initiatives including paddy cultivation using the SMART large-scale field concept. Apply site-specific nutritional management systems. We utilize the latest cultivation technology, including drones for spraying pesticides and the latest machinery for planting and harvesting.

early warning

The government has also provided an annual budget for the construction and improvement of rice field irrigation systems for many years. For this purpose, tube wells and dams have been constructed to store water, considering that paddy cultivation is highly dependent on rainfall.

Other measures to increase rice production include the introduction of alternative wetting and drying (AWD) innovations, which are irrigation scheduling techniques that replace continuous flooding (CF) irrigation systems.

Seeds of rice paddy varieties (anaerobic and aerobic varieties) that are resistant to the effects of floods and droughts are being developed and utilized, and agricultural insurance is being introduced to reduce climate change risks.

Photos are for illustrative purposes only. — Photo Bernama (2021) Copyright reserved

MAFI also supports the National Water Balance Management System (NAWABS) program by the Ministry of Environment and Water, which aims to effectively develop and manage the country’s water resources, and this program is used as a reference for rice cultivation management. Masu.

“Through this program, rainfall forecast data from the Malaysian Meteorological Department and data from the National Water Research Institute of Malaysia’s Climate Change Impact Study will be integrated to provide information on drought forecasts and water resource availability two months in advance. Warning will be issued to relevant authorities responsible for water management at the state and federal level as early as 14 days in advance.

“By taking full advantage of this system, state water management (authorities) can implement procedures such as cloud-seeding the watersheds around dams in the event that water levels at the dams drop due to days without rain. “We can make decisions about irrigation of rice fields, such as proposing a “reduction,” Ronald said.

In this way, it is possible to plan a more appropriate rice cultivation period by referring to the availability of rainwater resources and the amount of water in rivers and dams.

national agricultural policy

Photos are for illustrative purposes only. — Photo Bernama (2021) Copyright reserved

Beyond rice, MAFI is also committed to addressing food security in other agri-food sectors such as fruits and vegetables, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture through the implementation of the National Agri-Food Policy 2021-2030 (NAP 2.0). There is.

“The move to introduce NAP 2.0 is considered appropriate to ensure food security as climate change is also impacting the country’s fisheries resources. is becoming increasingly acidic, which is contributing to the destruction of coral reefs, which account for 25 percent of the country’s marine fish supply.

Mr. Ronald said, “To strengthen the national food security chain, NAP 2.0 will be driven by five core pillars, including promoting modernization and smart agriculture, strengthening domestic markets, and producing export-oriented products. “

Separately, the government also established a Cabinet Committee on National Food Security Policy as part of efforts to achieve more comprehensive food security.

Concerned about the impact of climate change on farmers, the government allocated RM80 million to MAFI in Budget 2021 and created the Agricultural Disaster Fund. This fund is now known as the Agri-Food Redevelopment Project Allocation (PPSPA).

PPSPA aims to reduce the burden on target groups of farmers, livestock farmers, fishermen, aquaculture operators, agrotourism and agro-industry operators affected by natural disasters caused by climate change. That’s what I mean.

Photos are for illustrative purposes only. — Photo Bernama (2021) Copyright reserved

Mr. Ronald said that the aid and support extended under the PPSPA is non-financial, providing agricultural inputs, equipment, machinery and other supplies to help targeted groups redevelop their agro-food activities. It said it would be provided in the form of non-financial assistance.

“Padiberas Nasional Berhad (BERNAS), through its social obligation to the government, contributes RM10 million annually to the fund throughout its concession period. The National Farmers’ Organization (NAFAS) also contributes RM2 million annually to the fund. Masu.

“Up to September 15, 2021, a total of RM4,346,239 has been transferred by MAFI to ministries under the ministry to alleviate the hardships faced by targeted groups affected by natural disasters,” the minister added. .

Translated by Rema Nambiar

— Bernama

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