Farmer, Makdin Umpong looking over his paddy field which was flooded here at kampung Tawadakan. Photo: Bernama

KOTA BELUD: Kota Belud, the ‘rice bowl’ of Sabah, is looking at RM29 million in losses, when nearly 7,000 hectares of paddy fields have been severely damaged by floods that hit the district following heavy rainfall on last 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 have been 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 the paddy fields in Kota Belud which were about to be harvested, were covered in mud and probably damaged by the flood. 

She said that the fate of 3,000 affected farmers would be given attention through the disaster relief programme, as they would receive between RM800 and RM1,000 per hectare each, depending on the age of their crops and as to ease their burden.

In the meantime, several approaches had to be implemented to prevent such problems from recurring, which includes looking at the need for dam to be built to control water levels as part of future planning, as well as 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 were damaged by the floods.

One of the farmers, Perin Rahil, said that his two hectares of paddy were damaged and his losses were estimated at about RM11,000, thus affecting his income to support his family.

For Amran Sibin, assistance from the government was very much needed to ease the burden on the farmers in Kota Belud who have suffered huge losses as a result of damaged rice fields.

Another farmer, Makdin Umpong, who was to harvest his rice this week, was saddened by the calamity but he accepted it as something totally unexpected. – Bernama