The Star, 13 May 2014
PUTRAJAYA: The Government is considering the possibility of stopping fish export and adjusting the start of the padi season in view of the expected prolonged dry spell caused by the El Nino.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said with the padi planting process usually taking place in June, a decision whether to delay it would have to be made soon.
“We have asked the Farmers’ Association Board to convene a meeting to look into this. We are not too worried about areas under Kada (Kemubu Agricultural Development Authority) and Mada (Muda Agricultural Development Authority) as both have enough irrigation.
“It is the other areas that require water to be channelled in from elsewhere that we need to have a pre-emptive measure to ensure the farmers would not be badly affected,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
Ismail Sabri earlier chaired a special meeting with the ministry’s various agencies on plans to face the effects caused by the El Nino weather pattern. While the prolonged dry spell would not adversely affect fish supply, Ismail Sabri said the ministry would consider the possibility of halting fish export as a pre-emptive measure.
The El Nino weather pattern is predicted to hit Malaysia next month and is expected to bring about a prolonged dry spell.
Meteorological Department central forecasting office director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said the impending El Nino episode could be an intense one.
He said computer models from institutions around the world, including the United States, Britain, Australia and Japan, had run simulations on the possibility of an El Nino weather pattern this year and the result was 70% positive.
“The official forecast by the World Meteorological Organisation is that El Nino will begin in June to August and will persist to the following year and we concur.
“During the early stages of El Nino, there will not be much bearing on the weather as the impact will only be felt months later,” Muhammad Helmi said, adding that the 1997 El Nino led to a reduction in rainfall that was more profound only in 1998.