Two-month-long haze in Malaysia shrinks fruits along with profits

A Malaysian man fishing in the backdrop of gantry cranes shrouded with haze in Port Klang on Oct 1, 2015.
A Malaysian man fishing in the backdrop of gantry cranes shrouded with haze in Port Klang on Oct 1, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The two-month long haze in Malaysia is causing a lower yield of crop, fruits and vegetables.

One of the main producers of Cavendish banana in the country, Kulim Bhd is expecting a low year-end harvest due to the haze.

Kulim Montel Farm manager Omar Rohani said the haze had badly affected the growth of new buds at its two banana farms in Kota Tinggi and Renggam, Johor.

 
 

He said the banana trees at the 165ha and the 110ha farms only produced about 4,500 and 6,000 new buds.

"This is about half of what our farms normally produce,'' Omar said on Thursday (Oct 1).

He pointed out that in July and August, the plants at the Kota Tinggi produced about 11,948 buds and those in Renggam 10,538 buds.

Omar said the estimated sales from the July and August fruits were expected to be between RM240,000 (S$77,692) and RM260,000.

"We expect our sales in October and November to go down to between RM180,000 and RM200,000,'' he said adding that even the size of the fruits were also smaller because of the haze.

Omar said this year's haze, which had prolonged for almost 35 days, was the worst compared with last year's which lasted less than a month.

According to Dr Mohd Norowi Hamid, who is the director of Agrobiodiversity and Environment Research Centre in Mardi, the haze reduced the photosynthesis rate because less sunlight reached the plants.

He cited the case that occurred in Serdang during 2013 when a 50 per cent s reduction in sunlight caused a 40 per cent lower photosynthesis rate in the corn plants. This in turn had reduced the yield.

Dr Mohd Norowi said with padi, if the haze occurred during the grain filling stage, the crop would face a reduction of 1.2 per cent.

He said the two rice planting seasons in Sekinchan, Selangor were from the start of January to the end of April and the start of July to the end of October.