Sabah’s ‘rice bowl’ suffers RM29 mln in losses following floods

KOTA BELUD: Farmer Makdin Umpong who was set to harvest his paddy fields this week looks forlorn as he has now been left with damaged rice fields following heavy rains here Sunday. Photo courtesy of BERNAMA.

KOTA BELUD, July 1 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Kota Belud, the ‘rice bowl’ of Sabah, is looking at RM29 million in losses, when nearly 7,000 hectares of paddy fields were severely damaged by floods that hit the district following heavy rain on Saturday.

Kota Belud Integrated Agricultural Development Area (IADA) director Salmah Labulla said that the estimated losses were calculated based on the potential yield, current market price and the costs involved in cultivation.

“Based on aerial view, we found the entire area of ​​about 7,000 hectares of paddy fields affected by the floods with losses estimated at RM29 million,” she told Bernama.

On Saturday, heavy rainfall left 11 districts and 152 villages in Sabah inundated in floodwaters including Kota Belud, Tenom, Beaufort, Papar, Tuaran and Penampang.

Salmah said that almost half of paddy fields in Kota Belud which were about to be harvested, were covered in mud.

She said the affected 3,000 farmers would be given help through the disaster relief programme.

They would receive between RM800 and RM1,000 for per hectare each, depending on the age of their crops, she said.

Meanwhile, several measures are expected to be taken to prevent the floodings, including building a dam to control water levels and deepening the rivers in Kota Belud, she said.

Meanwhile, some farmers met by Bernama expressed their sadness after seeing their crops, which were supposed to be harvested in just a few days’ time, damaged by the floods.

One of the farmers, Perin Rahil, whose two hectares of paddy were damaged in the event, has estimated his losses at about RM11,000. This has affected his income and capacity to support his family.

Amran Sibin said the assistance from the government was very much needed and will help ease the burden of the farmers in Kota Belud who have suffered huge losses from their damaged rice fields.

Another farmer, Makdin Umpong, who was set to harvest his rice this week, also expressed sadness over the calamity but added that he had accepted the totally unexpected event.