Rohani: Poor drainage and irrigation a factor

KUCHING: Poor drainage and irrigation is one of the factors that caused the recent floods in Sarawak according to Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Deputy Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim yesterday.

However, she was quick to add that it was not the main factor.

“The floods were not entirely due to poor drainage and irrigation but in some places where the system is poor, floods occur. But in most cases, it’s the combination of heavy rains in a few days, king tides and poor drainage and irrigation,” she told reporters here. Rohani, who is Batang Lupar MP, said the extraordinarily heavy rain – three to four times more than the norm – could have been caused by global warming.

She said her ministry would look into upgrading drainage and irrigation in Sarawak as a means to mitigate flood water and reduce damage on crops during poor weather.

“We can’t control the weather but we can do something on the ground and that is to best manage our drainage and irrigation. We need to carry out precision farming because some crops need more water than others while some need little water to grow,” she said.

Rohani added the fund towards this end had been included in the RM150 million that the federal government promised to allocate to make Sarawak the country’s next rice bowl to meet the nation’s Food Security Policy.

She said it was unfortunate that the first and second (Jan 25 to early February) waves of flooding had affected the state’s rice bowl project, which began last year.

Most of the rice fields were ready for harvesting when the natural disaster hit, she pointed out.

Therefore, she said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had promised that the federal government would assist farmers, whose crops had been damaged by the floods, financially.

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