PUTRAJAYA, May 12 – All agencies under the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry have been ordered to make immediate preparations, including discussing on importing more rice, in facing a possible El Nino weather phenonomenon in mid-2014. Its minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said even though it was only a prediction, various strategies needed to be drawn up to ensure there would be enough food supply, besides safeguarding the welfare of farmers, livestock breeders and fishermen. “If the forecast is correct, the El Nino impact will be huge on the agriculture industry, especially padi cultivaton, as the padi fields would need to be covered with water for planting to start,” he told a news conference, here, today.

However, he said, water supply for padi cultivation in the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) and Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) areas were expected not to be adversely affected due to sufficient water supply and a good irrigation system. “Areas outside the rice bowls with no good irrigation may be affected. We’ve decided that if rice planting starts in June, the Farmers Organisation Authority will call all the chairmen of the farmers’ organisations involved to discusss on possible rescheduling of padi planting to avoid planting during the dry season.” The United Kingdom Meteorological Office had forecast that the El Nino weather phenomenon would cause rising temperatures and a dry spell in the Southeast Asian region in the middle of this year.

However, local weather experts could not determine yet that Malaysia would also be affected by El Nino this time but if it does happen, Malaysia may face prolonged drought for up to six months. On fish supply, Ismail Sabri said the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia had been told to freeze fish in facing El Nino and he did not dismiss the possibility of stopping fish exports to ensure adequate domestic supply. He said the livestock sector must also be prepared in facing the El Nino phenomenon by ensuring sufficient feed stocks for cattle and other farm animals. “I hope the people will not be unduly worried as there will be enough supplies. As for the farmers, livestock breeders and fishermen, we will look after their welfare in the face of El Nino,” he said.

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