Dry spell hits Malaysia's fruit output

Dry spell hits Malaysia's fruit output
Residents placing water containers in front of an empty Syabas water tank in Taman Impian Ehsan.

JOHOR BARU - Fruit production in Malaysia has dropped by 50 per cent and the shortage is expected to last for the next three months due to the dry spell since the beginning of the year.

Malaysian Fruit Farmers Association president Hong Jok Hon said the heat had destroyed about half of the fruit crops nationwide, explaining that about 30 per cent of the leaves, flowers and shoots had either wilted or fallen off.

Despite the rain in recent days, he said farmers were still worried because fruit usually took between four and six months to harvest, compared with vegetables, which could be harvested within 20 to 45 days.

He said that fruit like lemon, guava, jackfruit, durian, mango, papaya, star fruit and watermelon had been affected.

"This dry spell has been the worst that has hit Malaysia in more than 20 years," he said.

Kulaijaya Vegetables Farmers Association chairman Liew Chow Kong said the rain was a relief for the farmers. However, he said that prolonged rainy days could see too much water being deposited on the crops.

Mr Liew said that Kulaijaya produces more than 100 five-tonne lorries of vegetables per day, adding that it exports 65 per cent of the harvest to Singapore daily.

He said the district produces items like bitter gourd, tomato, chilli, long bean, cucumber and ladies' fingers.

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