Malaysia: Shortage of vegetables as crops destroyed by floods and heat

Farmer Naviin Thiagarajan plans the planting of his crops based on an understanding of decades-long established weather patterns in Malaysia.  The 28-year-old, who works on a 2 ha land near Kota Tinggi with his 54-year-old father, rotates between planting long beans, okra, and cucumbers across the rainy and hot seasons. 

However, Mr. Thiagarajan said that these once-reliable plans are in disarray as the weather has recently become more extreme and erratic.  “From last year onwards, we started to see how unpredictable the weather has become. And over the last month, the weather has truly epitomized what I have read about climate change,” he told. 

At the start of the new year, many parts of the southern state of Johor saw torrential downpour, leading to floods that displaced thousands of residents.  The floods also hit many farms, destroying crops and impacting the livelihoods of many in the industry.

However, what has perplexed many farmers is how this period of intense and heavy rain has been followed by warmer weather in the last two to three weeks, with lower rainfall across the state. Between Dec 26 and Jan 1, at the height of the Johor floods, data released by the Johor Department of Irrigation and Drainage showed that the city of Johor Bahru had 1,448mm of rainfall, according to Malaysian media reports. 

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