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Cloud seeding from June 14-16 over Bukit Merah to save drying padi fields

The cloud seeding, with the help of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, is expected to encourage the formation of rain clouds in the parched Bukit Merah catchment area. (Bernama pic)

IPOH: The government will carry out cloud seeding operations in the catchment area of the Bukit Merah dam in Semanggol, Kerian district, to overcome dry conditions in the area and help irrigate 19,508ha of drying padi fields there.

Agriculture and food industries minister Ronald Kiandee said the areas affected were the Kerian Integrated Agricultural Development (Iada) and part of Iada in Sungai Acheh, Penang.

“Sub-sectors that will also benefit, apart from 8,889 farmers in the Iada Kerian area and 1,267 farmers from the Iada Penang area, are the fisheries and manufacturing sectors,” he said in a statement today.

Kiandee said the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), the Malaysian Meteorological Department, the Royal Malaysian Air Force and other agencies are expected to carry out the operations from June 14-16, depending on the suitability of the clouds and appropriate humidity.

“It is a process to encourage the formation of rain clouds.”

The water level of the Bukit Merah dam, the main irrigation source for the agricultural area, has dipped to the critical Irrigation Level 3 category of 6.10 metres.

Kiandee said his ministry would be holding talks with the environment and water ministry, MetMalaysia, the Perak government and other relevant agencies to find long-term methods to resolve the issue.

Last week, Perak plantation, agriculture and food industries committee chairman Razman Zakaria said he was confident that the cloud-seeding process would help produce rain in the affected areas.