Wednesday February 27, 2013
Kedah rice production at risk
JITRA: Kedah may lose its status as the country’s largest rice production state within a decade due to the uncontrolled logging activities should PAS continue to rule the state after the next general election.
Deputy Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharom said the indiscriminate logging at Bukit Perangin Forest Reserve land measuring 144.76ha (the size of 180 football fields) was harming the environment.
“We find rivers flowing into Sungai Temin drying up. Farmers are now facing problems channelling water into their padi fields, and this will definitely affect the rice harvest.
“Farmers have told me that they are worried that the excessive logging could cause soil erosion and their padi fields could be flooded by mud after a heavy rain,” he said, adding that Kedah’s output was 40% of the national rice production.
The Kubang Pasu MP also said farmers from Temin, Hosba, Binjai and Malau, which were under the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada), hoped the state government would stop the rampant logging activities.
“The state government has been giving a lot of excuses to wash its hands of the issue and this shows that PAS has failed to manage Kedah properly,” he said after handing over 1Malaysia book vouchers to 5,640 students in Politeknik Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah (Polimas) here yesterday.
The Kedah Government came under fire after Mohd Johari revealed the indiscriminate logging activities that had laid the land bare in Bukit Perangin, polluting the water in Sungai Kechik, Sungai Badak and Sungai Wang Perah.
The logging was approved by the state over a month ago, with the concession awarded to high-ranking Kedah civil servants and the land to be later replanted with rubber trees.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak was reported as saying that the land was originally gazetted as a forest reserve before being downgraded to state land in 2010 by the Kedah Government.
He had also claimed that it was not within the state’s power to handle environment issues, including those related to environmental impact assessments (EIAs).
State Forestry Department director Ku Azmi Ku Aman said the department had nothing to do with the land clearing before its handover.
“The clearing was done by a private company hired by Kedah civil servants. We only monitored the transportation of the timbers felled in the area.”
When asked if it was true that the state government had downgraded 780ha forest land – about the size of 963 football fields – in the same area for the same purpose, Ku Azmi said there was no document submitted for this.