A forum themed Agriculture and Environment was organized by the Student Representative Council (MPK) Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Sarawak Campus (UPMKB) on 17 April 2021. This forum was held for the first time in collaboration with the MyAgrosis Association Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) and Faculty of Sustainable Agriculture Universiti Malaysia Sabah. The forum highlighted issues surrounding the country's agricultural sector which are said to be among the major contributors to environmental pollution with greenhouse gas emissions and river pollution.
According to one of the panel, a senior lecturer from UPMKB Dr Wan Asrina Wan Yahaya, many farmers or smallholders still lack knowledge in the field of agriculture, especially in the issue of the use of chemical fertilizers. This is because, on average, this group is in the range of 60 years and above. Most of them also have no higher education background and only use chemical fertilizers that they have been using for decades.
"Their knowledge of the benefits of organic fertilizers is very low. They also had to use chemical fertilizers excessively to get maximum results. “Besides that, the agricultural produce which brings in relatively low profits for smallholders causes them to use more chemical fertilizer options available in the market compared to organic fertilizers. They also believe more in the effectiveness of chemical fertilizers than organic fertilizers because they have been using them for a long time.
“However, without realizing it, their actions have caused the fertility of the soil to decrease. As a result, agricultural yields became lower. Therefore, the transfer of knowledge on agricultural technology also needs to be enhanced by officials in the agricultural sector to smallholders in rural and remote areas, "he added. The second panel, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Serdang senior lecturer Dr Ferdius @ Ferdaus Mohamat Yusuff, believed that virgin forest exploration resulted in higher emissions of carbon and greenhouse gases into the air. As a result, carbon storage in the soil becomes less and less.
It is on these factors that Western NGOs claim that oil palm plantations without taking into account the history of land use and excessive use of chemical fertilizers can affect the quality of the environment. He also advised students to be more sensitive to environmental issues so that when entering the career world related to agriculture later, they will be more sensitive to agricultural activities that can threaten the environment.
He also shared his experience while doing field research on shellfish populations. According to him, the population of mussels near the estuary and oil palm plantations is lower than those far from oil palm plantations. This is due to the discharge of effluent from the processing of crude palm oil without treatment and without complying with the Environment Act 1974.
"Sustainable agriculture can reduce the rate of environmental pollution because it consists of three main pillars that are balanced in terms of economic growth, social progress and environmental well-being. "Therefore, the environmental aspect should also be taken into consideration by farmers and also owners of large-scale estates or plantations to ensure another balance, namely social and economic," said a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sabah Dr Januarius Gobilik.
Along with the development of current technology, agricultural innovation is also changing. According to Dr Rozana Samah from Universiti Utara Malaysia, agricultural innovation covers aspects of engineering technology, agronomy, crop protection and land management. This innovation aims to increase agricultural yields in terms of productivity and efficiency and also improve the living standards of farmers. The country's food sustainability needs to be enhanced to reduce the country's dependence on agricultural imports from neighbouring countries.
Ir Ts Mohd Fazly Mail, who is a research officer at MARDI, said: “Today's agricultural engineering technology, such as precise or precise agriculture, will help modern farmers in terms of energy and cost. Farmers also need to use engineering technology according to the size of the agricultural plots they have. An example is paddy farming. ” He added that acidic soils are not suitable for cultivation.
Therefore, the soil sample should be taken and its acidity measured so that it is in the range of pH 5.5 to 6. If it is less than the value, then the liming process should be done first before the cultivation process begins. Crop rotation will also help in increasing soil fertility, preventing disease attacks by insects and weeds.
(This article was prepared by Muhammad Darwisy Amzar Hakim, Nurul Husna Che Hamzah, Rosidah Basir)
Date of Input: 08/07/2021 | Updated: 27/04/2022 | lanz
97008 Bintulu, Sarawak,