Thursday, August 30, 2007

Malaysia: Misuse of pesticide

Student forced to take weedkiller

By : M. Husairy Othman and P. Chandra Sagaran

Muhammad Shamil Izwan is fighting for his life in hospital

TAIPING: It could be a case of bullying gone crazy. A religious school student, 14, is said to have been forced by his schoolmates to drink weed killer and is in critical condition.

It is believed that school bullies may have forced Form Two student Muhammad Shamil Izwan of Sekolah Menengah Addiniyah Jelutong, near here, to consume the poison.The boy was found unconscious in his dormitory about 10pm on Monday. He was rushed to the Taiping Hospital and was still at the hospital’s intensive care unit.

His policeman father, Ahmad Shokri Ayob, 44, told the New Straits Times that his wife Noorshada Man, 35, received a telephone call at 10.50pm from the hostel warden informing them of the incident. "We rushed from Pengkalan Hulu and met the principal and warden at the hospital. They told me that my son fell ill after drinking water from a water gourd (labu sayong).
"I was rather sceptical and went to my son’s dormitory to see the situation myself. I saw vomit stains on the floor and some greyish stains on my son’s bed."Later, I found out police officers at the scene recovered a plastic bottle containing some kind of liquid from the school’s rubbish dump," he said.

The NST learnt that several students came across the bottle some time after the incident and informed police after smelling its contents.The smell is extremely pungent similar to that of weedkiller, said a source.

Ahmad Shokri said his son’s twin brother Muhammad Shauqi Izwan, also in the same school, did not notice anything unusual about his brother before the incident."I hope police will carry out a detailed investigation and get to the bottom of this."

Perak police chief Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah said in Ipoh that statements had been recorded from several students and teachers of the religious school."We are investigating all aspects and have classified the case as attempted murder under Section 307 of the Penal Code," he said.Zulkifli declined to elaborate but confirmed that traces of weedkiller were found in the victim’s dormitory.

State Education Committee chairman Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, who visited the victim and his parents, advised the public not to speculate about the incident."Let the police do their job."

Brief History of Organic Farming and the National Organic Program in Western US

Brian Baker, Organic Materials Review Institute

Traditional farming practices used prior to the 20th century are generally regarded as ‘organic.’ Introduction of chemically synthesized farm inputs such as urea and DDT were criticized by scientists, philosophers, and practitioners who questioned whether the widespread adoption of such practices was sustainable. Farmers continued to practice traditional methods rather than adopt ‘progressive’ methods of chemical farming. Despite some economic disadvantages, a number of these traditional farmers remained competitive.
Organic food became established in the public’s mind as a separate identity during the 1960s and 1970s. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring established public awareness of the ecological problems associated with agricultural chemicals in general and the use of synthetic insecticides in particular. Water pollution related to fertilizer and pesticide use and the two energy crises in the 1970s also provided incentives for farmers to reduce the use of farm chemicals. Awareness of the consequences of modern farm practices led to pesticide regulation and created growing consumer demand for food grown without ecologically destructive and toxic chemicals. Many consumers considered organic food to be one such alternative. As the market for organic foods grew, so did the need for standards, certification, and regulation. The Rodale Press established a set of voluntary standards and a certification program in 1972. Several states passed laws governing organic agriculture in the late 1970’s. Rodale was also responsible for helping to organize the establishment of California Certified Organic Farmers and Oregon-Washington Tilth Organic Producers Association in the early 1970s.
Many of the pioneers and innovators in organic agricultural research came from the Western US. California has long been the largest producing and largest consuming state for organic food. Robert Papendick, a USDA-ARS soil scientist based at Washington State University in Pullman produced the "Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming," in 1980, regarded by many as the first official recognition by USDA that organic farming was viable and warranted serious research support. Within the University of California system, Robert vandenBosch and others within the Division of Biological Control advanced ecological principles and sought to avoid use of chemical pesticides.
The farm crisis of the 1980’s brought bankruptcy and foreclosure rates not seen since the 1930’s. A few large-scale bankrupt conventional farms were still able to plant and harvest crops without using purchased inputs. At the end of a transition period, they discovered that there were buyers who would pay a premium for their crops that were ‘organic by neglect’ because of the absence of chemical inputs. These farms were possibly the first to go organic for strictly economic reasons and were of considerably larger scale than the organic farms that existed prior to their entry into the organic sector. Their market entry made the organic sector more competitive with conventional agriculture. The ability of these farmers to produce without chemical inputs, their rapid expansion of the organic market, and their obvious profitability gained the attention of other nonorganic farmers who faced financial difficulties.
As the ecological, health, and welfare consequences of conventional farming systems became increasingly apparent, organic agriculture found itself serving a growing consumer base seeking an alternative to food produced by conventional farming techniques. In 1989, Sixty Minutes broadcast a story on Alar. Overnight, the sale of organic commodities increased without any change in practices or availability of organic food. Organic farmers and their customers saw limited supply, overwhelming demand, a patchwork of inconsistent or nonexistent state laws, inadequate enforcement programs, and pervasive fraud all threatening the meaning and value of the organic label. A coalition of organic farming, consumer, animal welfare, and environmental organizations persuaded Congress to pass the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in the 1990 Farm Bill.

In 1992, the USDA appointed the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and established the National Organic Program (NOP). Over the next five years, the NOSB and NOP convened numerous public meetings to discuss and develop a uniform set of organic standards for the US. Then, in 1997, the USDA published the first proposed NOP Rule. This first proposal did not adopt the NOSB’s recommendations, and was directly counter to the organic industry’s existing standards. The USDA received more comments on the first proposed NOP Rule than any other proposed USDA rulemaking up to that date. Practically every comment opposed the USDA adoption of the 1997 proposal as the NOP Rule. The USDA incorporated most of the NOSB’s recommendations into a final rule published on December 21, 2000. The OFPA was implemented by the NOP Rule on October 22, 2002.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Rosman Ahmad
Pusat Racun Negara

Keracunan menjadi salah satu perkara yang sering diperkatakan sejak akhir-akhir ini. Ia membabitkan berbagai jenis bahan kimia yang digunakan di dalam industri perkilangan, perladangan dan juga barangan rumah tangga. Ini termasuklah ubat-ubatan atau bahan pencuci sehinggalah kepada bahan-bahan semulajadi akibat gigitan haiwan atau dari sumber tumbuh-tumbuhan.
Konsep racun dan keracunan seringkali disalahtafsirkan. Ramai yang menyangka bahawa kejadian keracunan hanya membabitkan dua pihak iaitu pemberi racun dan mangsa. Kita jarang memikirkan bahawa semua benda yang kita sentuh, hidu atau makan berkemungkinan boleh menyebabkan keracunan. Bahan-bahan yang boleh menyebabkan keracunan ada di mana-mana, sama ada di rumah, tempat kerja dan kawasan persekitaran kita. Ia tidak hanya terhad kepada jenis-jenis racun yang telah dikenali seperti sianida dan plumbum.
Masyarakat perlu diberi kesedaran dan kefahaman mengenai apa itu racun, siapa yang diancam, bagaimana ia berlaku dan apakah kesannya terhadap manusia. Kesedaran ini penting supaya kita sentiasa prihatin dan bertanggungjawab.
Terdapat tiga faktor utama terjadinya keracunan iaitu agen, perumah dan persekitaran. Kejadian keracunan berlaku apabila ketiga-tiga faktor ini saling bertindakbalas dan dapat dielakkan jika salah satu faktor ini dapat diasingkan.
Agen merupakan bahan aktif atau media(biasanya kimia) yang boleh menyebabkan kecelakaan di dalam kejadian keracunan. Di antara sebab-sebab biasa keracunan ialah apabila seseorang itu terhidu gas atau asap beracun, mengambil ubat di dalam dos yang berlebihan atau meminum racun. Dalam satu-satu kes keracunan, bahan aktif dan kuantiti bahan yang terlibat boleh menentukan berbagai kemungkinan kecederaan yang akan dialami oleh mangsa.
Agen terdiri daripada bahan seperti ubat-ubatan dengan dos yang berlebihan, bahan pencuci, racun serangga, bahan kimia yang digunakan di dalam industri, di rumah atau dalam pertanian. Satu kajian menunjukkan bahawa 1/3 daripada kesemua kes keracunan yang telah dirujuk ke sebuah hospital tempatan membabitkan bahan-bahan kegunaan rumah tangga.
Bahan-bahan kegunaan rumah tangga yang sering menyebabkan keracunan
Sabun dan bahan pencuci
Sabun dan bahan pencuci biasanya menyebabkan rasa tidak selesa dan kesan terbakar pada kulit.
Bedak bayi boleh menyebabkan penyakit radang paru-paru yang serius.Kebanyakan deodoran dan pewangi mengandungi alkohol yang tinggi iaitu sebanyak 90%. Ia boleh menyebabkan keracunan alkohol dalam bentuk penindasan sistem saraf pusat, jika tertelan oleh kanak-kanak.
Banyak kes terminum minyak tanah dan lain-lain bahan petroleum secara tidak sengaja. Ini berpunca daripada penggunan botol sebagai bekas minuman.
Ubat gegat
Ubat gegat atau naftalin seakan-akan gula-gula atau coklat sering dimakan kanak-kanak.
Racun serangga
Aerosol racun serangga yang disimpan dalam tin yang tidak tahan panas dan boleh meletup.Sesetengah kanak-kanak berupaya menyembur racun dengan hanya menekan butang semburannya.
Pencil warna
Pengharaman beberapa keluaran pencil warna, krayon dan warna air kerana didapati mengandungi logam berat yang berlebihan pada awal 1995 menunjukkan keracunan boleh berlaku terhadap kanak-kanak sekolah.
Ubat-ubatan aspirin dan ubat selsema seperti antihistamin merupakan bahan yang biasa terdapat dirumah dalam pelbagai bentuk, saiz dan warna yang menarik seperti gula-gula atau coklat.
Makanan tercemar
Makanan yang telah dicemari oleh kuman tertentu boleh menyebabkan keracunan yang parah.
Tumbuh-tumbuhan banyak mengandungi bahan beracun. Contohnya seperti pokok kecubung yang banyak terdapat dipersekitaran kita. Pokok ini mengandungi racun alkaloida belladonna yang mudah diperolehi di persekitaran kita.
Ia merujuk kepada individu yang terdedah kepada kemungkinan keracunan. Faktor ini merangkumi umur, jantina, kematangan fizikal dan mental serta peribadi individu. Satu kajian awal tentang kes-kes keracunan yang dirujukkan di sebuah hospital tempatan menunjukkan bahawa lebih daripada 90% melibatkan kanak-kanak berusia antara satu hingga 11 tahun. Di kalangan kumpulan kanak-kanak ini pula, 80% melibatkan kanak-kanak berusia di bawah enam tahun. Kanak-kanak dalam usia ini biasanya suka mencuba sesuatu dan mereka tidak dapat membezakan baik atau buruk. Tambahan pula kanak-kanak belum boleh membaca label dengan betul dan mempunyai interpretasi yang berbeza.
AMARAN:RACUN(Label sebenar)
ARMANA:RANCU(interpretasi kanak-kanak)
Oleh itu, ibu bapa perlu prihatin terhadap situasi ini. Mereka perlu bertanggungjawab menerangkan kepada anak untuk mencegah berlakunya kejadian keracunan di rumah. Segala bahan beracun hendaklah disimpan di tempat yang selamat, berkunci dan tidak mudah dicapai oleh kanak-kanak.
Kes keracunan yang membabitkan orang dewasa agak sedikit berbanding kanak-kanak. Kebanyakannya bertujuan untuk membunuh diri. Dalam kes yang sedemikian, rawatan kesan keracunan dan psikiatri perlu diberikan kepada mangsa tersebut. Punca-punca sebenar mengapa mangsa mengambil tindakan sedemikian haruslah diselidik.
Banyak kejadian keracunan berlaku di rumah, iaitu tempat di mana bahan racun disimpan. Tahap sosio ekonomi dan tekanan di dalam keluarga merupakan unsur yang meningkatkan kemungkinan keracunan berlaku kepada kanak-kanak.
Dari kajian yang telah dibuat didapati bahawa kejadian keracunan di kalangan kanak-kanak biasanya berlaku di dapur(50%), tandas(20%) dan bilik tidur(10%). Kemungkinan berlakunya pendedahan terhadap bahaya meningkat apabila ibu bapa ataupun pengasuh kanak-kanak tersebut sibuk dengan kerja masing-masing dan kurang memberi perhatian kepada anak-anak mereka. Kanak-kanak yang terminum racun menghadapi risiko bahaya yang lebih tinggi kerana organ-organ di dalam tubuh kanak-kanak seperti hati dan ginjal masih belum terbentuk dengan sempurna.
Luar rumah
Alam sekitar telah dicemari dengan berbagai jenis bahan kimia toksik sama ada daripada sumber asli atau bahan buangan industri. Agen-agen ini boleh didapati di dalam air, tanah, udara dan makanan.
Setiap tahun banyak nyawa telah terkorban akibat daripada pencemaran dan kemalangan yang melibatkan agen-agen toksik tersebut. Namun masyarakat tidak mengetahuinya kerana kebanyakan kes tersebut berlaku kepada individu ataupun satu kumpulan kecil dan tidak mendapat liputan yang meluas dari pihak media.
Bila sepatutnya anda mengesyaki anak anda mengalami keracunan?
Kanak-kanak tersebut pernah mengalami keracunan
Kanak-kanak tersebut berumur antara 1-5 tahun. Kumpulan ini mempunyai risiko yang tinggi kerana gemar memasukan benda ke dalam mulut.
Kanak-kanak tersebut sakit secara mengejut, terutama apabila dia menunjukkan tanda-tanda sawan walaupun tidak demam atau tidak sedar diri tanpa sebab tertentu.
Kanak-kanak tersebut muntah tanpa sebab tertentu
Tanda-tanda kesakitan pada beberapa bahagian badan atau organ tanpa sebab tertentu.
Nafas kanak-kanak mengeluarkan bau pelik ataupun terdapat tanda di sekitar mulut dan bibir - seperti tanah, kotoran, melepuh atau luka.
Contoh yang paling nyata ialah pencemaran udara. Agen toksik yang biasa terdapat di udara termasuklah karbon monoksida, sulfur dioksida, hidrokarbon dan nitrogen dioksida yang merupakan kesan daripada kecuaian manusia sendiri. Kenderaan bermotor merupakan faktor utama yang menyebabkan pencemaran alam sekitar.
Penyebaran agen toksik di udara bergantung kepada jarak dan lokasi daripada sumbernya (sama ada mengikut arah angin atau menentang arah angin). Pendedahan kepada agen-agen toksik yang terdapat di udara secara mendadak biasanya menimbulkan rasa tidak selesa pada sistem pernafasan. Pendedahan yang berpanjangan boleh menyebabkan penyakit yang melibatkan radang saluran pernafasan dan barah paru-paru.
Kandungan bahan buangan industri dan asap rokok, pembakaran terbuka dan petrol tanpa plumbum berterusan dalam persekitaran kita. Selain daripada bahan-bahan tersebut, penambahan agen seperti organoklorin yang kebal terhadap sistem pelupusan semulajadi adalah agak membimbangkan. Bahan kimia ini kekal dan terkumpul di persekitaran untuk jangka masa lama yang mana ia akan menimbulkan masalah terhadap kitaran makanan. Sekiranya kita gagal membentuk satu langkah keselamatan bagi menangani masalah ini dengan baik, kesihatan manusia sejagat akan terancam. Tragedi kemalangan bahan kimia dan radioaktif di Bophal, Minamata dan Chernobyl harus menjadi pengajaran kita.
Menangani masalah pencemaran persekitaran adalah satu usaha yang rumit dan memerlukan masa, tenaga dan belanja yang banyak. Beberapa langkah tertentu boleh digunakanutnuk menganalisis sesuatu situasi. Antaranya:-
Jenis racun yang terbabitBertujuan untuk mengenalkan pasti kemungkinan bahaya yang akan timbul. Mengenalpasti agen yang terlibat, sifat fizikal dan kimia, tindakblasnya dengan bahan atau agen lain, adakah ia meletup, dan tahap kekakisannya adalah penting untuk mengawal sesuatu agen toksik.
Kadar pencemaranAdalah penting untuk menentukan satu-satu kesan pencemaran bagi menganggarkan kerosakan yang bakal terjadi. Kepekatan agen toksik di dalam tanah, air dan udara perlu diukur. Keadaan geografik pada masa kejadian dan akan datang juga penting bagi mentaksirkan kesan pencemaran tersebut. Sekiranya pencemaran tersebut melibatkan agen toksik berkepekatan tinggi dan membahayakan kesihatan, persoalan berikut perlu diutarakan.
Bilangan mangsa yang terdedah kepada agen toksik tersebut?Sekiranya tiada hidupan atau manusia di kawasan pencemaran dan bahan tersebut adalah bukan untuk kegunaan pertanian, kemungkinan besar ia tidak akan mengancam kesihatan walaupun pencemaran tersebut teruk. Tetapi sekiranya pencemaran tersebut berlaku di kawasan kediaman manusia, beberapa laluan pendedahan perlu diberi perhatian; pendedahan mungkin berlaku sama ada melalui udara atau menghidu habuk, daripada tanah, debu, makanan atau minuman atau melalui kulit. Situasi ini memerlukan tindakan yang terperinci dan langkah-langkah berikut mungkin boleh membantu:-
mestilah berupaya mengenal pasti sebarang situasi yang boleh mendatangkan bahaya.
bertindak dengan segera memanggil pihak berkuasa yang berkaitan seperti Jabatan Alam Sekitar, Jabatan Kesihatan, dan Pusat Racun Negara.
jabatan tersebut mungkin berupaya untuk membantu menyelesaikan sesuatu keadaan yang kompleks dan juga membuat perancangan tentang tindakan yang perlu diambil.
Secara ringkasnya, memahami sifat sesuatu agen di persekitaran sama ada mengancam nyawa atau tidak dan persediaan awal adalah perlu untuk merawat mangsa keracunan. Insiden-insiden seperti pembuangan bahan sianida di Pulau Pangkor, pencemaran gas klorin di Ipoh dan serangan gas beracun Sarin di Tokyo seharusnya menjadikan kita lebih peka terhadap bahaya sesuatu agen

Toxic chemicals threat


KUALA LUMPUR: Some 300 unlicensed pest control companies may be exposing their customers to poisonous and toxic materials.
If the pesticides are not mixed properly, before being applied on the ground, wall, ceiling or farms, it can be dangerous to human health and cause respiratory problems, headache, stomach ache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Pest Control Association of Malaysia (PCAM) president Ang Tan Loong said that only about 170 companies were licensed and most of them were members of the group and were trained in handling toxic chemicals.
“The unqualified and unlicensed companies will pose a threat to their clients because they are using poisonous and toxic substances without knowing how to handle them with care.
“Depending on the dosage, if toxic substances are inhaled it can even be fatal,” Ang said.
He urged the public not to use unlicensed operators and report such people to the Pesticide Board or the Department of Agriculture.
A Department of Agriculture official said enforcement officers were checking on unlicensed operators as the grace period for them to get licensed ended last year.
PCAM secretary S. Gnanasambanthan advised customers to ensure that the pest control company had the Pest Control Operator licence issued by the Pesticide Board.
To check on the validity of an operator, call PCAM at 03-9274 7288 or check with the Pesticide Board in the Department of Agriculture.

Pesticide shower poisons Beijing palace fish

August 28, 2007

BEIJING (Reuters) - Strong pesticides sprayed on trees killed around 1,000 fish at a former imperial palace in Beijing, after a sudden downpour washed the chemicals into a stream, the official Xinhua agency said on Tuesday.
"The strength of the pesticide was rather high and the shallow water in the brook failed to dilute the poison content," Xinhua quoted Zong Tianliang, spokesman for the Yuan Ming Yuan Park, as saying.
The city, which next year will host tens of thousands of foreigners during the Olympic Games next summer, regularly sprays trees with pesticides, but it was not clear if the ones used at the park were employed across Beijing.

Remove Pesticide Residues on Fruits and Vegetables when Eating

Wash Fruits and Vegetables - Why and How

Fresh produce has a natural protective coating that keeps in moisture and freshness. Whether produce comes from your garden or from the store, it should always be washed just before serving. Washing before storing produce will cause it to spoil faster.

Why does some produce, such as apples and cucumbers, arrive at the store with a wax coating? Waxes are applied to help retain moisture, which keeps the produce firm and crisp. Since the U.S. government regulates waxes for safety, they are not harmful if eaten. Waxes cannot be removed by washing. If you prefer not to consume waxes, purchase unwaxed items or peel the produce before serving.

What about pesticide residues? Recent government data shows that almost all fresh fruits and vegetables have either no pesticide residue or residues below established tolerance levels.
Here's how to wash fresh produce:

1. Before working with any foods, hands should be washed with soap and water. Also, make sure preparation areas are sanitary.

2. Under clean, running water, rub fruits and vegetables briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms.

3. Wash produce just before serving - not before storing, as washing will cause produce to spoil faster.

4. Produce with a firm skin or hard rind like carrots, potatoes, melons or squash may be scrubbed with a vegetable brush and water.

5. Discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage before washing.

6. Always wash squash and melons, even if you don't eat the rind or skin because when cut, dirt or bacteria that is on the outer surface can be transferred to the inner flesh.

7. DO NOT wash produce with detergent or bleach solutions. Fruits and vegetables are porous and can absorb the detergent or bleach, which is not intended for use on foods and consuming them on fruits and vegetables have the potential to make you sick.

Commercial produce sprays or washes are available in some supermarkets. These are currently being studied and in some cases may help remove some soil, surface microbes and pesticides. Extension, USDA, or FDA does not recommend these sprays or washes. No washing method completely removes or kills all microbes, which may be present on the produce. Washing produce with tap water is usually adequate. Users of commercial produce washes are advised to consider the cost of the product versus the potential benefit

Malaysia: Pesticide Poisoning

John T Arokiasamy, MPH, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur

Pesticides, insecticides and rodenticides are major agents of unintentional poisoning too, both directly as well as indirectly. In recent years, pesticides have caused numerous cases of poisoning, many of whom are children. Worldwide, an estimated half a million poisonings per year are said to be caused by exposure to agricultural pesticides. This occurs when pesticides are left in open containers in homes or in areas where children play.

The use of pesticides on commercial vegetable crops is often extensive in order to obtain higher yields and better returns. Indiscriminate, excessive spraying of stronger dosages of these chemicals are often resorted to achieve this end. In 1993, there were about 400 deaths due to pesticide poisoning from over 1400 reported cases, of which 45% were non-suicidal in nature. Ministry of Health figures based on government hospitals data revealed that in 1992, 138 cases of pesticide poisoning were unintentional in nature, mostly at work, with two deaths.

Elsewhere, reports of organophosphorous toxicity due to absorption through the skin has been reported. Organophosphates, found in pesticides, were commonly implicated in cases seen in Jordan with an annual mortality rate of about 35.3%.

It was also reported that 74% of the cases were among children less than 10 years. Aplastic anemia, pure red cell aplasia, leukemia, lymphoma and other hematologic disorders following exposure to the pesticide pentachlorophenol (PCP) has been reported, suggesting that exposure to chemicals that linger long in the environment can lead to mutagenic, hemolytic and carcinogenic effects.

Arsenic commonly found in insecticides, herbicides and industrial materials are involved in heavy metal poisonings and most commonly in children. A herbicide of importance in unintentional poisoning, resulting from accidental ingestion, is paraquat. A 9-year-old is reported to have been poisoned after using an empty bottle of paraquat for drinking water from a water tank.

Rodenticides too are known to give rise to poisoning. A superwarfarin compound (brodifacoum) used as a rodenticide resulted in a child being poisoned.

Malaysia: Tainted Vegetables in Selayang

Tainted vegetables: Samplings ‘too small’

Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek says pesticide abuse is under control

PUTRAJAYA: Vegetables at the Selayang wholesale market tainted by pesticides?

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is surprised that the Institute for Medical Research IMR) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) have arrived at this conclusion using limited sampling."I am very upset that they used limited samplings (93) to conclude their research.

"They should have discussed the findings with us before making it public, even though the outcome may reward them with a Nobel Prize," he said before meeting specialists and doctors of private hospitals in his office yesterday.Dr Chua said any study, for that matter, should not be conducted using limited samples.

"The findings should have been analysed first before any announcement was made."We have been monitoring the pesticide level constantly and our samples run into thousands, not just 93."Last year, only two of 427 samples of fruits tested were found to be tainted while only 29 from 1,766 samples of vegetables, were found to have flouted the Food Regulations 1985.Pahang topped the list of non-compliance (4.6 per cent), followed by Johor and Negri Sembilan (2.3 per cent), Perak (two per cent), Penang and Sabah (1.7 per cent), and Selangor (1.3 per cent).

Dr Chua said the abuse of pesticides by farmers was under control. "We will continue to monitor and conduct random checks to ensure pesticide levels are under the permissible level. We will intensify co-operation with the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry to ensure good and ethical methods among our farmers.

He advised cnsumers to wash vegetables and fruits first before eating them.The New Straits Times had, among other things, highlighted findings that high levels of pesticide residue had been found on vegetables sold at the Selayang wholesale market in Kuala Lumpur.

It was reported that two-thirds of the 93 samples of six popular greens were found to be contaminated with at least one kind of pesticide.Some of the contaminated vegetables were spinach, kangkung, round cabbage and Chinese mustard. The Selayang market supplies vegetables to about three-quarters of the hypermarkets, wet markets, night markets and grocery stores in Selangor.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Malaysia: What Ministry say about tainted vegatables in Selayang?

Ministry, farmers dispute findings on tainted greens

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry, City Hall and Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers’ Association have disputed the findings by Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) on contaminated vegetables at the Selayang wholesale market.

They said it was unfair for the study to focus on certain vegetables at the market and conclude that they were tainted.The Health Ministry’s food safety and quality division director, Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad, said the ministry was in the dark in regard to the research findings.The division conducted checks on vegetables at the Selayang wholesale market but did not find contamination levels to be as high as those claimed by IMR and UKM.The ministry also had not formally received a copy of the report but Dr Abdul Rahim said he had one given to him by a contact.

The New Straits Times report yesterday had, among others, highlighted the high levels of pesticide residue found on vegetables sold at the Selayang wholesale market in Kuala Lumpur.
It was reported that two-thirds of the 93 samples of six popular vegetables were found to be contaminated with at least one kind of pesticide.Some of the contaminated vegetables were spinach, kangkung, round cabbage and Chinese mustard.
The Selayang market supplies vegetables to about three-quarters of the hypermarkets, wet markets, night markets and grocery stores in Selangor.City Hall Health Department director Dr Zainol Ariffin Pawanchee questioned the study, saying: "If this was their actual finding, why was the Health Ministry not alerted?
It is surprising that the findings were presented in a seminar."He also said City Hall officers routinely checked food in the market, but did not elaborate if findings were similar to the ones reported by IMR and UKM.In Muar, Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers’ Association secretary-general Chay Ee Mong said the pesticide residues found on raw and untreated vegetables at the Selayang wholesale market were minimal and the amount would be greatly reduced when the greens were washed, soaked and cooked.
"It is improper to conclude that the whole basket of vegetables was contaminated when only a few raw and untreated vegetables had excessive pesticide residue."IMR should get more accurate information from the Department of Agriculture and the Health Ministry, as both parties were monitoring vegetable farming.
"To obtain accurate information, the research should be based on the actual situation."Our members have always adhered to good agriculture practice and abided by regulations to ensure all vegetables are safe for consumption," he said.Its president Tan So Tiok said consumers should disregard the findings of the report as it would only affect the export of vegetables and the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, the Consumers’ Association of Penang has called on the Health Ministry to reveal the detailed sampling, testing plan and results of tests done on the vegetables. In the meantime, it called on the public to avoid local vegetables until the Health Ministry had given an assurance that vegetables sold in the market were safe for consumption.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Beware these greens: Tainted vegetables at Selayang wholesale market

Almost one-third of the vegetables from the Selayang wholesale market studied exceeded the maximum residue level allowed by the law.

KUALA LUMPUR: Selangor's most frequently consumed vegetables have been found to be highly contaminated with carcinogenic pesticide residues.

This was the finding of a study done by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.The study showed that all celery and curry leaf samples taken from the wholesale market in Selayang tested positive for three groups of cancer-causing pesticides.At least 40 per cent of the spinach (bayam), kangkung, round cabbage and Chinese mustard were contaminated. The tests were done on unwashed vegetables.Of these vegetables, almost one-third exceeded the maximum residue level (MRL) allowed by the Food Act (1983) and Regulation (1985).

The Selayang market supplies to about three-quarters of the hypermarkets, wet markets, night markets and grocery stores in the state.The results of the study were announced at the 10th Asean Food Conference which ended on Thursday in Subang. Researcher Dr Nurul Izzah Ahmad from IMR described the findings as "alarming".

"We found it hard at first to believe that the celery and curry leaves were 100 per cent contaminated."But when we tested the curry leaves taken from our own garden, and found no traces of pesticide residues, we knew there was nothing wrong with the figures."

The three-pronged research by IMR and the university took five years to complete.It collected data on vegetable consumption among adults in Selangor, determined pesticide levels in vegetables, and calculated the estimated pesticide exposure among consumers.

A total of 93 samples of six popular vegetables from the wholesale market were tested for 20 pesticides from the organochlorines, organophos-phorus and synthetic pyre-throids groups.Two-thirds were contaminated with at least one pesticide.

Almost half had two to four types of pesticides.The high level of contamination showed that farmers had not been adhering to the pre-harvest interval, said Nurul."They harvest the crops much earlier than they should," said Nurul, who is with IMR’s environmental health research centre."Pesticides, which have a certain shelf life, have not fully disintegrated when the vegetables are collected."Nursiah Md Tajol Aros, director of the pesticide control division at the Department of Agriculture, said they were not aware of the study and would look into it when they receive a copy of the report.

She said it was hard to trace the source of the contaminated vegetables as the Selayang market got its supplies from all over the country. The pesticide control division conducted monthly monitoring sessions at the farms, Nursiah added.

"If the farmers use too much pesticides, we advise them to carry out good agricultural practices. We adopt the soft approach."The enforcer is the Ministry of Health, which conducts checks at the retail level."

Despite the alarming findings, the research, completed last year, indicated the potential health risk of consuming these pesticide residues as "low"."The samples from the market were raw and untreated.

We did not wash the vegetables prior to testing them so that we can get the maximum level of pesticide residue," said Nurul.

"But before eating them, most people would have washed, soaked and cooked the vegetables, greatly reducing the amount of residues consumed."The study showed that an adult in Selangor is estimated to eat about 5.88 microgram/kg body weight/day of pesticide, which is about four times lesser than the acceptable daily intake set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisation.

However, this only applied to people who took a moderate amount of vegetables (160g), said Nurul."We don’t know how much pesticide people who eat a lot of vegetables are exposed to.

We plan to conduct a study soon."Gurmit Singh, the executive director of the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia, said: "The fact that one-third of the vegetables studied exceeded the residue level is cause for concern."

As the study showed that 97 per cent of pesticide consumption comes from leafy vegetables, Nurul advised the public to clean them adequately before eating.Vegetables must be soaked with salt to remove worms, larvae, eggs and pesticides.

"Choose vegetables with holes. The nice-looking vegetables are not always the best."Consumers must change their perception. "When there’s no demand for nice-looking vegetables, farmers will reduce the use of pesticides.

"Eat more tubers and fruit vegetables like brinjal, cucumber and kacang, which contain less pesticide residues."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Considerations for Direct Land Application of Organic Waste Products

High costs and capacity pressures on landfills and wastewater treatment systems have caused many managers of these systems seek alternatives for organic waste. Composting has become a popular option, but it can be expensive and does not work well for processing high-moisture waste. Increasingly, direct land application of organic waste is seen as a low-cost option that allows a waste product to be used beneficially for crop production.

Many types of organic waste products are being directly applied to land. Agricultural waste such as manure and livestock bedding has been land applied for centuries. Land application is the primary method of utilizing sewage sludge biosolids from more than 130 Kansas wastewater treatment systems. Farmers are accustomed to dealing with manure, and sewage sludge application is highly regulated. Today however, waste products considered for land application include yard waste, supermarket vegetable waste, restaurant and institutional food waste, grain handling waste, a wide variety of waste products from the food processing industry, and many other sources. Most farmers are unfamiliar with land applying these products that are, for the most part, unregulated, or for which specific standards are not established.
Organic waste products tend to vary widely in content. It ranges from nearly dry products to materials that are mostly water. The only thing the products have in common is that they all contain at least some organic material, and they may contain from minute to significant amounts of nutrients beneficial to plants.

Organic waste products also may contain components that can be detrimental to crop production and soil health, such as soluble salts, fats, weed seeds, and pathogens, and may vary in pH (relative acidity or alkalinity). Some may have a wide carbon-nitrogen ratio (C-N) so that microbial action may temporarily tie up plant available nitrogen in the soil water. Wastes from processing operations could potentially, though rarely, contain heavy metals and many other compounds, depending on the particular process and product. Some products may result in objectionable odors or may attract rodents, birds, or other animals.
Because of the wide variation in composition, it is impossible to make specific recommendations that apply to all organic waste products. Nevertheless, here are some general factors that should be considered in making land application decisions.

Know what nutrients are present in the organic residue. Have the material tested for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This, along with soil tests on the land where application is intended, will provide the information needed to determine the appropriate application rate. If too little is applied, it will be necessary to add other fertilizer for optimum crop production. If too much is applied, nutrients may be wasted and, in some cases, be environmentally harmful. Nitrogen supplied in excess of crop needs can result in residual nitrates that have the potential to leach into the groundwater given the right soil and climate conditions. Excessive phosphorus may move with runoff water and contaminate surface bodies of water.

Nitrogen is usually of greatest concern. It may occur in several forms in organic material. Plants utilize nitrogen either as ammonia or nitrate. Usually nitrate nitrogen is present in only small amounts in organic waste. Ammonia is most likely to be present in high-moisture waste products. Most nitrogen, however, will be in organic compounds.
Soil microorganisms break down organic material, using carbon compounds as an energy source and nitrogen compounds for synthesis of proteins that are part of the organisms’ bodies. When an organic waste with a wide C-N ratio (low nitrogen) is applied to the soil, microorganisms will satisfy their nitrogen needs for protein synthesis by using nitrogen already existing in the soil in the nitrate form. As microorganism numbers increase, nitrogen is tied up or immobilized. With time, as the carbon source is depleted and microorganisms die, that immobilized nitrogen will mineralize into the form needed by plants. However while of rapid decomposition of high-carbon material, nitrogen available for plant use may be limited unless supplemental nitrogen is supplied.

When organic waste with a narrow C-N ratio is land applied, nitrogen in excess of what the microbes and crop need has the potential to leach into the groundwater as nitrate. Ammonia nitrogen can be lost or volatilized into the atmosphere, especially when high moisture waste products are applied to the surface and not immediately incorporated into the soil. Nitrogen should not be applied to soil in excess of expected crop utilization. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Bureau of Water, has developed a worksheet used in calculating the nitrogen agronomic rate for sewage sludge biosolids application. This worksheet should work equally well with other land applied materials containing nitrogen (Contact the Kansas Department of Health and environment, Bureau of Water, 785/296-5520, for a copy of the agronomic rate calculation worksheet “LA-ANR”) Some wastes have very low nutrient content and contain little organic matter. Those that are mostly water may only have value as supplemental irrigation water. Though the substances may not be harmful, farmers will have to decide whether applying low nutrient content materials is worthwhile without special compensation.

Soluble salts and pH
Some organic waste products, particularly food processing waste, can contain considerable soluble salts. Soluble salts in the soil are measured by determining the capacity of a solution extracted from a saturated paste of a soil sample to conduct electricity.Salt concentration is directly related to electrical conductivity, usually expressed in millimhos per centimeter (mmhos/cm). Crops commonly grown in Kansas are not significantly affected on soils with salt levels of 0 to 2 mmhos/cm. Growth of most plants is progressively reduced as the salt level in the soil increases. Some areas of Kansas have large areas of soil naturally high in soluble salts. Both the soil and the waste should be tested for soluble salts before application. High-salt wastes should be applied with care to soils that are already above the 2 mmho/cm level. For other soils, regular soil tests for soluble salts should be used to ensure that salt levels do not rise to a level that limits plant growth.
Most crops prefer a fairly neutral soil pH level. At normal application rates, organic waste usually will not have a major impact on soil pH. Nevertheless, to be safe, test both the soil and the waste for pH to ensure that the applied material will not further aggravate an existing very high or low soil pH.

Other contaminants
Most organic waste products will probably be relatively free of heavy metals and chemical compounds. However, manufacturing processes could introduce contaminants into some organic waste products that may be harmful to plant growth or the environment. It is important to ask a lot of questions about the source of the material and how it was produced. If in doubt, ask for a laboratory analysis of the heavy metal content of the material. Standards have been developed for metal concentrations of sewage sludge biosolids allowable for application to agricultural land. It is recommended that those same standards be used in determining the suitability of other organic wastes that are land applied. (Contact the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Bureau of Water, 785/296-5520, for “Kansas Sludge Reporting Forms” used in determining allowable biosolids application rates based on metal content.)

Odors, pests, and pathogens Odors can be a problem when some organic wastes are applied to land. Some material may have inherent unpleasant odors. Other material may become more odorous after it is applied and begins to decay. It is helpful to immediately incorporate any applied material into the soil. Some material applied in large amounts or containing large pieces, may require several tillage passes for incorporation. Pre-shredding may be necessary. Subsurface injection of liquid materials, usually to a depth of six or more inches, will significantly reduce odor problems. Sometimes odors are difficult to avoid, but complaints can be minimized by providing adequate buffer zones between the application area and residences or other human activity. Transportation routes should be followed that avoid passage though concentrated residential areas. Some organic material, especially food waste, may attract rodents, birds, and other animals. Again, incorporation into the soil is the best practice. Effective composting destroys most weed seeds and pathogens. Farmers should be aware that some directly-applied untreated organic waste products may contain one or both. Pathogens are most likely to be present in untreated processing wastes, especially those containing animal products. Weed seeds may be found in unprocessed plant materials, such as yard waste. Be aware of the source of the waste material and be prepared to manage it accordingly.

Application equipment
Frequently, application of waste material will require the use of specialized equipment not available on many farms. Liquid materials can often be injected directly into the soil. Injectors will need to be adjusted or specially adapted to the type of material. Very wet solids can be difficult to spread evenly. Typical manure spreading equipment may work for this type of material, but will often require adjustment or adaptation, especially if the material contains large pieces, as in some food waste. Bulky materials, such a yard waste,also can present special challenges in application. The best approach may be to require the provider of the waste material to be responsible for application in accordance with procedures set by the farmer.

Effects on the soil Of course, the goal of applying waste residues to land usually is to improve the soil. In the best of worlds, the application process will add useful nutrients to enhance plant growth or increase organic matter that will have a positive effect on soil physical and biological characteristics. However, even the application of beneficial material also can have a negative effect on the soil.
Land application of wastes will usually mean more trips across the land with machinery. A major concern is soil compaction, which can be minimized by following several steps:

1) Make as few trips across a field as possible,
2) Keep large trucks and other road transportation equipment off the field if possible,
3) Use field equipment that minimizes soil compaction, and
4)Do not apply waste products when the soil is wet.

Land application of waste can have an impact on residue management. Incorporation activities will often destroy much of the surface crop residue, leaving the soil more susceptible to wind and water erosion. Even injection destroys a significant amount of residue. It is recommended that most land application requiring incorporation be done on less erodible land and, if possible, near the time a crop will be planted.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pesticide sprayers in Malaysia

Malaysia's cheap pesticide sprayers pay with health
By R MageswaryAsia Times Online

IPOH, Malaysia - Kamala (not her real name) is constantly scratching her hands and complaining that they hurt. Her hands are already red and blotchy - but so is most of her body.
She is a pesticide sprayer in a palm oil plantation that is just a few hours' drive from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. She has been working there for the past three years, the same period of time that she has had to put up with skin problems and other ailments.

''When I spray the pesticides and work across the tall weeds, my clothes get drenched with the chemicals and I start itching,'' says Kamala. She also suffers from nausea and dizziness. Kamala is not alone in her ordeal, says Dr Isa Mohamad Abdul Majid of the state-run National Poisons Center. Indeed, many other sprayers have been found to be suffering worse ailments, from blurred vision to tremors to cancer.

Palm oil and rubber are among Malaysia's main exports. Almost all of the pesticide sprayers at the plantations where these are grown are women because they command lower wages than men. At present, there are about 30,000 women pesticide sprayers in the country, and health experts say many of them are working without much protection from the harmful chemicals that they handle on the job.

According to Sarojini Rengam of the non-government organization Pesticides Action Network (PAN), these sprayers handle pesticides classified by the World Health Organization as Class 1, such as monocrotophos, methamidophos and carbufurun. Class 1 pesticides are highly toxic substances which have to be handled according to specific instructions.

Some plantation management do provide protective clothing for their workers. But more often than not, say activists, the workers themselves refuse to wear these, complaining that they are too hot.

Part of the problem is that the workers are often unaware how dangerous the pesticides are. Pesticide sprayers mix the chemicals with their bare hands. At times, some even blow into the nozzles of their equipment with their mouths to remove blockages.

Dr Isa says: ''There is no clean water for irrigation of the eye . . . If this happens in the field, they would normally use the closest water source such as water from the nearby stream that would usually be contaminated with the pesticides from the mixing activity.''

Isa, Sarojini and Kamala were among the participants at a recent national conference on pesticides and women's health. Jointly organized by the Poisons Center, PAN and the women's NGO Tenaganita, the conference had extensive discussions on the plight of women plantation workers.

Isa says all of the 72 sprayers who participated in research he conducted beginning 1992 contracted a variety of illnesses, including those that Kamala is now experiencing. The results of Isa's research, which concentrated on pesticide sprayers in palm oil and rubber plantations throughout Malaysia, were released recently.

''All those interviewed have suffered either vaginal pains, burning sensation when passing urine, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, skin problems, giddiness, tremors, abdominal pains, fatigue, blurred vision or discoloration of the nails,'' he says.

Plantations in Malaysia have basic medical facilities. But the services they offer may no longer be adequate for the various illnesses of the workers. Vasugi (not her real name), for example, repeatedly sought medical aid from the plantation clinic for acute pains in the breast region that later also affected her throat and neck. The hospital attendant gave her huge amounts of painkillers.

Still no better after a year, Vasugi went to a medical center. ''I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had one breast removed,'' she says. ''The pain is still there and the doctor thinks I could have been affected by the exposure to pesticides for six years.''

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 37,000 cases of cancer occur annually due to exposure to pesticides. Various reports in recent WHO journals also reveal that 25 million agricultural workers in developing countries suffer an episode of pesticide poisoning each year.

Moses comments that ''the severity of the symptoms and the usage of the highest toxicity pesticides'' in Malaysia ''are shocking''. But it is not as if Malaysia has no laws to prevent this happening.

In fact, the Malaysian Occupational and Safety Health (OSHA) Act requires that a safety and health committee be formed if there are more than 40 sprayers in a plantation. ''But this has not been adhered to,'' says Irene Fernandez of Tenaganita. Apparently, the health ministry, which is supposed to monitor such matters, has been unable to ensure that all plantations comply with the act.

The women sprayers themselves say their unions have failed to present their welfare and health issues to the management. Plantation workers here are mostly union members.
Tenaganita, PAN and the Poisons Center are now working on recommendations for the government on the health problems faced by the sprayers. Among the suggestions are that the government effectively enforce the provisions under OSHA as well as a ban on all WHO Class 1 pesticides. Also listed is a call for more mechanical controls like cutters and the rearing of sheep and goats to keep the grass down. Says Sarojini: ''We have tried talking to the management about this but they say it is cheaper to employ women sprayers.''

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rice farmer who went organic

Saturday September 23, 2006

A worker drying out the grains of padi at the farm.
KLUANG: Nestled in the foothills of the Belumut mountain forest reserve is the only organic rice eco farm in the country.
It all began when one farmer decided that he had had enough of chemically-sprayed pesticide and insecticide ridden food at his dining table.

Another contributing factor that hastened Tam Pak Suew’s decision was the withdrawal of the government subsidy for rice farmers outside the eight main granary areas in the country.
Tam, 49, said that by 2001 it simply became impossible to survive by farming rice the conventional way and compete against other subsidised rice farms as it was no longer the same level playing field.

“I was planning on switching to organic farming gradually, but the withdrawal of the subsidy forced me to completely change my farming practices,” he said at his farm recently.
Seven years later and with an annual turnover of RM1mil, Tam is a much happier man with a sustainable 109ha farm that grows organic rice, dragon fruit, and coffee.

He also breeds tilapia fish and ducks, offers an eco-homestay programme with additional plans to expand his Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm to include a range of vegetables.
Tam alternates the planting of padi with breeding fish on different plots of land to protect the nutritional content of the land. The fish and ducks also help in controlling insect pests and weeds.
“Organic food may not look perfect or especially beautiful, but it certainly has much higher nutritional content and it does not have harmful chemicals sprayed onto it,” Tam said.

Youths having fun bamboo-rafting at the farm.He added that it was also more environmentally friendly as the land would not be subjected to the poisons and toxins from chemicals.
The awareness about organic food was still very low among Malaysians as it was hard to convince people overnight, he lamented, as the market was driven by consumers who demanded food like perfectly polished white grains of rice even though it was nutritionally inferior.

“Organic products may be more expensive, but you will be saving on medical bills as you will be much healthier,” he said claiming that he last visited a doctor six years ago.
According to Tam, many conventional farmers themselves were organic food consumers as they often had a small patch of chemically unsprayed organic food that they grew only for their own consumption.

“They realise the harmful effects of the chemicals,” he stated revealing that on a conventional rice farm, the crops would be chemically sprayed at least 12 times within the four-month season with herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and growth regulators.

Peacock looking at organic dragon fruits at the farm.Organic farms have to rely on more challenging methods of dealing with pests, with Tam resorting to trapping pests like rats with fishing nets and chasing birds with noise-making contraptions.
“The extra effort is worthwhile if it means the food is safer and the environment more protected,” he said.

Being the only organic rice farm in the country also makes it a draw for visiting foreigners like British social worker Phil Peacock, 32, who has been working on the farm for the past month in exchange for food and lodging.

Peacock believes that he has found a closer relationship with the land and the environment as well as a cheaper way of travelling and understanding cultures.
“I come without farming skills so I produce concrete posts, do some pruning, weeding and if there are a lot of guests, I even help serve food,” said Peacock who has been travelling continuously around Europe, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Tibet, China, Laos, and Thailand after leaving London three years ago.

Although Peacock will be leaving for Singapore soon, Tam is convinced that more and more people will someday realise the importance of organically produced food.
“If you are healthy, your life is enriched. That is happiness to me,” he said.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Health Ministry to educate farmers on use of pesticides


PENANG: The Ministry of Health wants farmers to exercise caution in their use of pesticides to ensure that locally-produced vegetables are safe for consumption.
Its parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said besides taking action against errant farmers, the ministry would educate them on the issue.
“The problem will not be solved until the farmers understand the negative consequences and economic impact caused by the misuse of pesticides,” he said.

Friendly chat: Lee (centre) greeting students after closing the Rakan Muda programme in Penang on Sunday.Lee said this a press conference yesterday after closing the Program Rakan Muda Wawasan Desa IPT.
He believed that even errant farmers would stop producing “toxic vegetables” if they understood the pros and cons.
Lee was commenting on a recent media report that pesticide-tainted vegetables were sent to markets.
He added that vegetables in Malaysia were safe for consumption as random checks by the ministry had shown that only a small percentage of local vegetables were tainted with pesticide.
“Our vegetables are still very safe to eat.
“We will constantly monitor the situation,” he said.
He also urged non-governmental organisations to help authorities monitor the situation and inform the ministry if they were aware of farmers using excessive pesticide.

High-tech way to study pest

Beach erosion worries fishermen


Eroded:Fishermen say the sea has claimed two metres of the beachfront at Kampung Tepi Sungai.

FISHERMEN in Kuala Muda and Ti-kam Batu, Kedah are worried over the beach erosion near the fish landing site at Kampung Tepi Sungai in Kota Kuala Muda.
Tikam Batu Area Fishermen’s As-sociation former chief Zainol Mohd Nor, 51, said the retaining wall was not high enough to prevent waves from pounding against the land area during high tide. He said the sea had claimed the beachfront by at least two metres.
Zainol added that the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) in Tanjung Dawai had in Ja-nuary, built a 1.5m high gabion wall from granite rocks.
These were held in place by wire netting to prevent the erosion.
Eroded:Fishermen say the sea has claimed two metres of the beachfront at Kampung Tepi Sungai.“However, the barricade is not strong enough to hold back the tide, particularly during the monsoon season.
“The authorities should build a stronger barricade,” he said.
Zainol also said some 400 fi- shermen from Kuala Muda Utara (Seberang Prai), Kuala Muda Sela-tan (Kedah) and Tikam Batu would usually unload their day’s catch at the site for distribution to wholesalers.
He added that a wooden shed, built 23 years ago, was destroyed by the 2004 tsunami and a concrete one was built to replace it.
“After the tsunami, the beach-front was left without a mini jet- ty for fishermen to unload their heavy carts weighing at least 60kg each.
“Two fishermen would take turns to heave the carts over the 1.5m high barricade and walk about 5m to the landing site,” he added.

Residents want a wall along river to prevent erosion

Story and photo by GEETHA KRISHNAN

Checking: Yap assessing the damage caused by erosion behind Kampung Sungai Ramal Luar resident Fatimah’s (right) house. Behind them is Md Rosnan.

ARIVER embankment strengthening project that stops short behind their houses has several Kampung Sungai Ramal Luar, Kajang, residents worried.
They are appealing to the Hulu Langat Drainage and Irrigation Department to build another 170m of concrete wall along the river to prevent erosion. The wall, currently being built, stops just before the six lots where the residents’ houses are located.
Work on the RM8.7mil project between Bangi and Kajang began in May last year and is targeted for completion this October.
The project was initiated when recurring floods burst the riverbanks. Besides erecting the wall, steps are also being carried out to deepen the river in several sections.
Checking: Yap assessing the damage caused by erosion behind Kampung Sungai Ramal Luar resident Fatimah’s (right) house. Behind them is Md Rosnan.Lot 8568 owner Md Rosnan Ramli said erosion caused a deep crack on the walls of his kitchen and there was evidence of soil settlement.
“Even after steps were taken to repair the damage, there was still some soil movement because new cracks started to appear. When the project has come this far, what is an additional 170m?” he asked.
The owner of Lot 8528 Fatimah Mohd Amin said several of her fruit trees including banana and rambutan trees tumbled into the river as a result of the erosion.
“In a way, the deep roots of my other rambutan trees have prevented further erosion but I don’t know if the trees can stand tall for long,” she said.
Another resident, the owner of Lot 8565 Azhar Osman, who has lived in the area for a decade, said the erosion was getting worse and that the authorities should act quickly to prevent damage to the houses in view of the monsoon season.
Serdang MP Datuk Yap Pian Hon who visited the affected area recently said the project measured 2.5km and the additional 170m would fully protect the riverbanks from erosion.
“Following residents’ complaints, I sent a letter to the Hulu Langat DID in June and received a reply stating a working paper on the request would be forwarded to the Selangor DID for consideration,” he said.
“A request for additional funds would also be made. But we haven’t heard anything from the Hulu Langat DID since then and residents want some assurance that the authorities are aware of their plight.”
Certain parts of the river involve deep drops and erosion could lead to unwanted incidents.

Erosion control plan a must in Klang


DEVELOPERS must submit an erosion and sediment control plan for all new building works.
“Development in our towns can negatively affect the environment because soil exposed by new construction can be washed into the waterways and cause floods,” said Klang Municipal Council (MPK) councillor Datuk Dr Teh Kim Poo.
“Most of the time, silt reduces water capacity, causing the waterways to overflow.
“One sure way to curb this is to ensure that developers build silt traps,” he said.
Dr Teh added that MPK must enforce strict regulations that require builders, landscapers and even individuals working on building sites to assume responsibility for preventing soil erosion.
“MPK enforcement officers together with the engineering department must ensure run-off diversion measures and sediment trapping devices are implemented by builders before construction work starts,” he said.
Recently, Dr Teh conducted a check on a 300m U-shaped drain being built off Jalan Petola at Kampung Raja Uda in Port Klang to replace the earth cut drain that had existed for 50 years.
“We have to replace the earth cut drain with concrete drains as erosion is beginning to set in and could affect houses along it.
“We might extend the stretch another 100m to ensure the water flow is smooth,” he said.

Petani dikesan guna racun tak berdaftar

(Utusan Malaysia, Rabu – 19 Jun 2002)

Melaka (Malaysia) – Jabatan Pertanian mengesan segelintir pengusaha pertanian di negara ini menggunakan racun perosak yang tidak berdaftar dan boleh menjejaskan mutu produk yang dihasilkan oleh mereka. Penggunaan racun perosak yang tidak berdaftar juga mengakibatkan pengusaha terbabit tidak akan mendapat pengiktirafan di bawah “Skim Akreditasi Ladang Malaysia” yang diwujudkan untuk faedah masa depan petani. Semua pengeluar tanaman seperti sayur-sayuran dan buah-buahan perlu mematuhi Jadual 16 Akta kandungan racun perosak dalam tanaman mereka bagi memastikan kandungan racun perosak dalam tanaman mereka tidak melebihi paras yang ditetapkan.

CAP bimbang petani campur racun tanpa nasihat pihak berwajib

(Utusan Malaysia, Khamis – 20 Jun 2002)

Kangar, Perlis (Malaysia) – Persatuan Pengguna Pulau Pinang (CAP) bimbang mengenai kesihatan petani-petani di Perlis dan Kedah yang membuat campuran pelbagai jenis racun serangga untuk meningkatkan bahan toksik tanpa nasihat pihak berwajib bagi memusnahkan sejenis ulat yang dikenali sebagai Naphalocyosis Medinalis di kawasan sawah padi mereka.

Petani-petani itu mendakwa racun yang dicampur itu lebih berkesan memusnahkan ulat berkenaan yang juga dipanggil “ulat lipat daun” dan mereka membelanjakan antara RM30 hingga RM200 untuk membeli racun itu. Sehubungan dengan itu, CAP mencadangkan Jabatan Pertanian dan Mada melaksanakan kaedah biologi bagi mengurangkan penggunaan racun dalam usaha memusnahkan serangga perosak tanaman padi termasuk ulat lipat daun.

Pesawah minta racun hapus ulat

(Utusan Malaysia, Sabtu – 22 Jun 2002)

Arau. Perlis (Malaysia) – Kira-kira 15,000 pesawah dalam Daerah I Lembaga Kemajuan Pertanian Muda (Mada) Perlis yang mengusahakan tanaman padi seluas 16,320 hektar menyarankan supaya agensi itu memberi bantuan racun untuk memusnahkan ulat yang dikenali sebagai Naphalocyosis Medinalis. Bantuan tersebut wajar disalurkan segera memandangkan ulat itu yang juga dipanggil ulat lipat daun semakin merosakkan tanaman padi di kawasan tersebut. Hampir keseluruhan kawasan tanaman padi Daerah I Mada Perlis telah diserang ulat tersebut yang memakan lapisan hijau daun pokok padi. Serangan ulat itu juga dilaporkan merebak ke empat daerah lain dalam kawasan Mada yang meliputi Perlis dan Kedah. Pesawah-pesawah terlibat memerlukan bantuan racun memandangkan harganya agak tinggi dan membebankan mereka.

Skim akreditasi ladang untuk pertanian mesra alam

Berita Harian, 2 Okt 2002

Oleh Junita Mat Rasid

KEPESATAN pembangunan perindustrian dan pertanian tidak dapat dipisahkan dengan alam sekitar. Umum juga mengetahui pembangunan yang tidak terancang sedikit sebanyak merosakkan alam sekitar.

Sehubungan itu, amalan Pertanian Yang Baik (GAP) yang merujuk kepada pengurusan ladang atau kebun secara teratur dan ke arah pertanian lestari berdasarkan piawaian yang diguna pakai pada peringkat antarabangsa seperti Eurep GAPM dan Codex, selain piawaian Malaysia sendiri bukan saja akan menghasilkan buah-buahan serta sayur-sayuran bermutu, malah mesra alam sekitar.

Pengurusan ladang yang sistematik dan mementingkan semua aspek pengeluaran dijalankan dengan mengambil kira kesannya terhadap alam sekitar.

Pertanian yang tidak terancang tanpa GAP dan hanya mementingkan keuntungan semata-mata pula akhirnya menyumbang kepada kemusnahan alam sekitar.Contohnya, Cameron Highlands kawasan tanah tinggi kira-kira 1,829 meter daripada paras laut adalah kawasan terkecil di Pahang yang meliputi keluasan 71,2333 hektar atau 443 kilometer persegi. Suhu di kawasan peranginan itu antara 10 hingga 23 darjah celsius menjadikannya penempatan sesuai untuk bercuti. Persekitaran itu amat sesuai untuk pertanian teh, sayur-sayuran dan buah-buahan.
Bagaimanapun, pembangunan ekonomi yang tidak terkawal, hakisan dan pencerobohan hutan secara haram mengancam sistem geografi Cameron Highlands. Malah, kajian mendapati kawasan tanah tinggi itu kini sudah tidak sesejuk berbanding sekitar 1970-an.

Kaedah pertanian mesra alam, termasuk tanpa penggunaan banyak racun serangga, sistem pengairan yang baik dan pemilihan tapak yang bersesuaian perlu diberi perhatian.Buah-buahan dan sayuran yang dihasilkan bukan saja berkualiti dan selamat dimakan, malah proses penghasilannya tidak menyumbang kepada kerosakan alam sekitar yang memberikan kesan negatif kepada masyarakat.

Menyedari hakikat ini, Kementerian Pertanian memperkenalkan Skim Akreditasi Ladang Malaysia (SALM) untuk mengiktiraf ladang yang menekankan GAP, sekali gus mesra alam sekitar, selain menghasilkan produk berkualiti, selamat dan sesuai dimakan.

Setakat ini, SALM yang dimulakan sejak awal tahun ini menghasilkan 15 kumpulan pertama petani yang mendapat pengiktirafan anugerah itu.Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Pertanian, Datuk Ismail Ibrahim ketika majlis penyampaian sijil SALM baru-baru ini, berkata pertanian mesra alam membabitkan semua proses, iaitu pemilihan tanah yang bersesuaian sehingga penghasilan produk yang bercirikan kualiti selamat serta tidak mengandungi sisa racun perosak, logam berat dan pencemaran mikrobial.

Katanya, pertanian sepatutnya mengelak hakisan, pencemaran air dan hanya melalui pemeriksaan serta pemantauan berterusan penting untuk memastikan pertanian mesra alam."Melalui pelaksanaan skim persijilan SALM, jabatan dapat membuat teguran dan nasihat kepada petani mengenai penggunaan racun, amalan teknologi dan pengurusan ladang yang betul daripada semua aspek yang menyumbang kepada persekitaran selamat."Jabatan juga membuat analisis hasil air dan baja bagi memastikan ia sentiasa berada di bawah paras yang dibenarkan. Lazimnya produk bermutu adalah hasil daripada sumber yang baik melalui pembangunan terancang," katanya.

Katanya, pengurusan pertanian mesra alam menguntungkan petani kerana masyarakat hari ini sudah sedar dan mengutamakan sumber makanan yang tidak tercemar dan selamat dimakan serta memastikan proses itu tidak menjadikan alam sekitar sebagai mangsa.

Melalui skim itu, pegawai Jabatan Pertanian yang terlatih melawat dan memeriksa ladang serta pelbagai pemeriksaan berdasarkan syarat yang ditetapkan bagi memastikan ia tidak menjejaskan alam sekitar.

Secara umum, skim ini menumpukan tiga aspek penilaian, iaitu kesesuaian ladang dan persekitaran, amalan pertanian dan kualiti produk.Kesesuaian tanah dan persekitaran yang mengambil kira lokasi, hak milik dan sejarah guna tanah serta risiko yang dihadapi kawasan terbabit seperti hakisan, tanda-tanda hakisan dan risiko banjir penting bagi memastikan pertanian mesra alam sekitar.Selain itu, GAP mengambil kira pengurusan tanah dan substrat, penggunaan bahan tanaman dan input, pengurusan pembajaan dan kawalan perosak, pengendalian lepas tuai, pengurusan dan pembuangan sisa ladang dan sisa baki racun perosak serta logam berat di bawah paras yang dibenarkan.

Pendekatan pengurusan perlu dilaksanakan secara mesra alam sekitar dengan penggunaan racun serangga berdaftar dan disyorkan saja. Kadar dan kekerapan penggunaan racun perosak itu perlu mengikut sukatan yang disyorkan bagi menjamin ia tidak digunakan berlebihan yang akhirnya diserap oleh permukaan bumi.

Dalam pengurusan mesra alam itu, ladang pertanian perlu terletak pada paras ketinggian kurang daripada 1,000 meter bagi menjamin ekosistem sedia ada tidak terjejas disebabkan pelbagai masalah, termasuk hakisan tanah.

Pemeriksaan di kawasan ladang dan sampel hasil pertanian yang sedia untuk dipasarkan juga penting bagi memastikan sisa baki racun perosak, logam berat dan pencemaran mikrobial yang tidak melebihi paras ditetapkan.Pemeriksaan itu bagi memastikan ladang mengamalkan hasil pertanian secara lestari berpandukan konsep alam sekitar sebagai jaminan tidak memudaratkan alam sekitar.

Petani wajar memanfaatkan kaedah yang sesuai bagi memastikan pertanian lebih selamat dan berkesan dalam meningkatkan pengeluaran dengan mengurangkan penggunaan bahan kimia.Ia selaras dengan kesedaran bahawa pertanian yang mematuhi proses pemuliharaan alam sekitar dan tidak hanya mementingkan keuntungan semata-mata penting bagi menjamin kesejahteraan penduduk dan persekitaran yang selamat untuk generasi akan datang.

Hakikatnya, kita bukan saja memerlukan kawasan untuk pembangunan pertanian, tetapi pada sama kawasan itu perlu memenuhi ciri mesra alam sekitar untuk kepentingan bersama.Sebolehnya kita tidak mahu menjadikan alam sekitar sebagai sasaran semata-mata bagi kepentingan keuntungan yang akhirnya merugikan masyarakat apabila berlaku hakisan air dan tanah serta fenomena alam sekitar yang menyebabkan proses pembangunan terbantut.

Justeru, sikap petani melupuskan sisa buangan pertanian secara tradisional dengan melakukan pembakaran terbuka dan penggunaan racun perosak tanpa sukatan yang ditetapkan adalah antara penyumbang kemusnahan alam sekitar.Apa yang penting ialah produk yang dihasilkan tidak mementingkan kuantiti saja tetapi yang lebih utama ialah kualitinya terjamin dengan mengambil kira sumbangannya kepada alam sekitar.Ia juga selaras wawasan negara untuk menjadi pembekal dan pengeksport utama produk makanan menjelang 2010 tidak menjejaskan alam sekitar serta tidak mengenepikan kualiti ladang yang mesra alam sekitar.

Envo-Cyper: Racun serangga berasas bahan sawit pertama di dunia

Oleh Dr Ismail Ab Raman

Bagi dapatkan kualiti produk pertanian lebih baik bahan agrokimia perlu bagi mengekalkan penghasilan bahan makanan dan serat bermutu tinggiBahagian Kemajuan Teknologi Oleokimia, Lembaga Minyak Sawit MalaysiaKERAJAAN Malaysia menekankan perlunya revolusi dalam aktiviti pertanian negara dengan cara penggunaan teknologi baru dan ‘ICT’ bagi memperoleh hasil dan kualiti produk pertanian yang lebih baik. Kajian menunjukkan bahawa penggunaan bahan agrokimia seperti racun serangga dapat meningkatkan hasil bahan pertanian dan perladangan antara 20 peratus hingga 50 peratus.

Oleh itu, bahan agrokimia adalah amat perlu bagi mengekalkan penghasilan bahan makanan dan serat yang bermutu tinggi. Anggaran 20 peratus dari pasaran racun makhluk perosak di Malaysia adalah jenis racun serangga, di mana hampir 50 peratus daripada jumlah itu adalah racun serangga berasaskan bahan pelarut dari petroleum, juga dipanggil racun serangga pekat teremulsi (EC).

Bagaimanapun, pelarut terbitan petroleum menyebabkan masalah kesihatan seperti kegatalan dan radang kulit dan mata kepada pekerja di kilang pengeluaran bahan agrokimia dan di ladang pertanian (rajah 1).Ramai pekerja di sektor pertanian pada masa kini lebih peka kepada keselamatan dan keselesaan mereka di dalam mengendalikan bahan kimia pertanian seperti penggunaan racun serangga berasaskan emulsi minyak dalam air (EW) berbanding jenis pekat teremulsi (EC). Kajian telah menunjukkan formulasi jenis EW mempunyai banyak kelebihan berbanding formulasi jenis EC seperti:

# Formulasi berasaskan air, jadi kurang masalah kesihatan kepada pekerja.
# Tiada masalah kelayuan (fitotoksik) kepada daun atau pokok tanaman.
# Produk yang lebih murah atau setanding dengan produk EC.
# Bahan oleokimia terbitan minyak sawit dalam produk EW pula mempunyai ciri-ciri mesra alam, mudah terurai, tidak mudah terbakar, dan kurang menyebabkan masalah kesihatan kepada pengguna.

Pada 2000, Dr Ismail Ab Raman, Pegawai Penyelidik Kanan dari Bahagian Kemajuan Teknologi Olekimia, MPOB mengambil inisiatif menjalankan kajian penggunaan bahan sawit dalam penghasilan racun serangga emulsi minyak dalam air (EW) (rajah 2). Projek ini mendapat sokongan penuh dari Syarikat Pengeluar Tempatan bahan oleokimia terbitan minyak sawit.

Ujian bioefikasi peringkat makmal ke atas serangga perosak tropika menunjukkan racun serangga EW menunjukkan prestasi setanding dengan racun serangga komersial EC bagi mengawal serangga perosak itu.

Kerjasama antara MPOB - Imaspro Resources Sdn Bhd

Teknologi penghasilan racun serangga EW dipamerkan di Pameran Pemindahan Teknologi, MPOB pada 2004 dan mendapat perhatian daripada beberapa syarikat pengeluar bahan agrokimia tempatan.

Pada 2005, Syarikat Imaspro Resources Sdn Bhd membuat beberapa perbincangan untuk proses pemindahan teknologi ini. Perjanjian ditandatangani di Seminar Pemindahan Teknologi MPOB, 27 Jun 2006 bagi Pemindahan Teknologi Produk `Palm EW-Cypermethrin 5.5 %' (skala makmal) kepada Imaspro Resources Sdn Bhd dan di serahkan kepada anak Syarikatnya, Imaspro Biotech Sdn Bhd untuk tujuan pengkomersilan.

Daripada perjanjian itu, MPOB-Imaspro Biotech Sdn Bhd bersetuju menjalankan aktiviti penyelidikan lanjutan seperti:

# Menjalankan kajian ladang penggunaan ‘Palm EW-Cypermethrin 5.5%' bagi menentukan keberkesanan produk EW dalam mengawal serangga perosak seperti kumbang badak dan kesan fitotok-sisitinya ke atas pokok kelapa sawit muda (rajah 3).
# Menjana perubahan proses teknologi produk hak milik MPOB (skala makmal) kepada skala ‘pilot plant’ dan mengoptimakan parameter-parameter proses pengeluaran dan kawalan mutu.
Mengumpul dan menyediakan data pendaftaran produk itu dengan Lembaga Makhluk Perosak Malaysia.
# Mencipta atau mengadaptasi dan melabur bagi pembuatan reaktor pemprosesan untuk pengeluaran skala komersil, dan seterusnya proses memasarkan produk tersebut.

Kajian ladang selama lapan bulan mendapati racun serangga EW-cypermethrin berasaskan bahan oleokimia terbitan minyak sawit menunjukkan kesan setanding atau lebih baik berbanding racun serangga komersial di dalam mengawal kerosakan pokok kelapa sawit oleh kumbang badak dan serangga perosak lain.

Produk racun serangga EW-cypermethrin 5.5 %(w/w) didaftarkan di Lembaga Racun Makhluk Perosak Malaysia oleh Imaspro Biotech Sdn Bhd dan diberi nama komersial sebagai 'ENVO-CYPER'

Produk ini dilancarkan secara rasmi sempena hari Seminar Pemindahan Teknologi MPOB pada 18 Jun 2007. Syarikat Imaspro Biotech Sdn Bhd mensasarkan sebanyak 20 peratus daripada pasaran racun serangga jenis cypermethrin di Malaysia bagi tahun pertama pengeluaran produk ENVO-CYPER (StarBiz, 20 Jun 2007).

Skop: Pembalakan jejas mutu air sungai

Berita Harian 24 mac 2001

PENEBANGAN hutan bukan saja menyebabkan hakisan tanah dan memusnahkan pelbagai spesies pokok, malah turut menjejaskan mutu air sungai sekitarnya.Dalam kitaran hidrologi, air hujan meresap ke dalam tanah melalui akar pokok manakala sebahagiannya mengalir di atas permukaan tanah.Ketika itu, pokok berfungsi sebagai penebat banjir semula jadi mengawal kestabilan kadar aliran air hujan ke dalam sungai.Apabila ia ditebang, air yang mengalir laju di atas permukaan tanah akan membawa kumin-kumin tanah dan bahan pepejal dalam jumlah yang banyak. Akibatnya, air sungai menjadi keruh, berkeladak dan dipenuhi sampah sarap.Menurut Pensyarah di Jabatan Sains Alam Sekitar, Fakulti Sains dan Pengajian Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Prof Madya Dr Mohd Kamil Yusoff, pepejal terampai dan kekeruhan adalah dua kriteria utama yang akan dinilai untuk menentukan mutu air sungai di kawasan hutan.“Peningkatan kadar pepejal terampai dan kekeruhan saling berkait antara satu dengan lain. Jika kadar pepejal terampai tinggi, maka kekeruhan juga tinggi,” katanya.Beliau berkata, selain penentuan kadar pepejal terampai dan kekeruhan, kadar gas ammonia yang terlarut dalam air juga diambil kira bagi menentukan mutu air di kawasan hutan.Bagaimanapun, katanya, penentuan kadar gas ammonia jarang digunakan di kawasan itu, sebaliknya ditumpukan di sungai berhampiran kawasan perindustrian.Dr Mohd Kamil berkata, kekeruhan pula adalah keputusan secara visual menentukan sama ada air itu bermutu atau tidak.“Jika air sungai berwarna kuning, pasti kita menganggap air itu kotor,” katanya.Katanya, berdasarkan Piawai Kualiti Air Kebangsaan yang dikeluarkan Jabatan Alam Sekitar, sungai kelas satu mempunyai kadar pepejal terampai sebanyak 25 miligram setiap liter (mlg/l) dan lima Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU) kekeruhan.Sungai kelas dua (A) dan (B) pula ialah 50 mlg/l pepejal terampai serta 50 NTU. Sungai kelas tiga iaitu 150 mlg/l pepejal terampai dan lebih 50 NTU manakala sungai kelas empat dan kelas lima masing-masing 300 mg/l pepejal terampai dan lebih 50 NTU kekeruhan.Katanya, setiap kelas sungai itu ada kegunaan dan kebaikan yang tersendiri. Antara kebaikan dan kegunaannya ialah:l Kelas satu – bersih dan tidak memerlukan rawatan kecuali bagi tujuan pembasmian kuman dan pendidihan. Ia juga amat baik bagi kehidupan spesies akuatik dan pertumbuhan plankton;l Kelas dua (A) – sesuai bagi tujuan bekalan air. Ia perlu dirawat dan masih sesuai untuk melindungi kehidupan spesies akuatik yang sensitif;l Kelas dua (B) sesuai untuk kegiatan rekreasi.l Kelas tiga – memerlukan rawatan intensif untuk tujuan bekalan. Bagi kehidupan spesies akuatik pula, ia masih lagi sesuai dan mempunyai nilai ekonomi. Bagaimanapun, air daripada sungai kelas tiga tidak sesuai untuk diminum manusia, sebaliknya hanya sesuai bagi binatang ternakan.l Kelas empat – hanya sesuai untuk tujuan kegiatan pengairan; danl Kelas lima – tidak sesuai untuk semua kegiatan di atas.Dr Mohd Kamil berkata, pengkelasan sungai itu bukan hanya dinilai daripada aspek kadar kandungan pepejal terampai dan kekeruhan, sebaliknya meliputi kandungan bahan kimia yang terlarut, bau, rasa dan lain-lain lagi.Berasaskan beberapa kajian yang dijalankan sebelum ini, sumber air di negara ini, khususnya sungai, berada dalam kelas tiga.Katanya, kadar kekeruhan dan pepejal terampai yang tinggi boleh meningkatkan kos rawatan air. Selain itu, ia boleh menyebabkan sesebuah sungai menjadi cetek.“Sungai yang cetek akan mengurangkan bekalan air dan menjejaskan sumber minuman pelbagai hidupan. Jika sumber utama itu berkurangan, kita yang susah,” katanya.Justeru, katanya, penebangan atau pembangunan yang dijalankan di kawasan tadahan air itu akan mengurangkan sumber minuman bagi seluruh makhluk di alam ini dan menjejaskan mutunya.Katanya, bagi memastikan sumber air, khususnya sungai di negara ini terus berkekalan, pihak berkuasa perlu mempertingkatkan penguatkuasaan dan memastikan kawasan tadahan bebas daripada kegiatan pembalakan serta penebangan pokok.“Kawasan tadahan air tidak boleh dibangunkan jika mahu mengekalkan kelangsungan sungai sebagai sumber air utama untuk generasi akan datang.“Pembangunan yang dilakukan kini banyak meminggirkan kriteria itu, sebaliknya mementingkan keuntungan semata-mata,” katanya.

Hakisan : Rumah impian retak

Berita Harian 22/1/05 Oleh KC Chong

KUALA LUMPUR: Memiliki kediaman sendiri memang impian setiap orang terutama bagi mereka yang menetap di ibu kota.Bagaimanapun, keadaan membimbangkan penduduk apabila mendapati rumah impian mereka retak selepas beberapa tahun mendiaminya. Tanah mendap juga membuatkan penduduk gelisah kemungkinan berlaku kejadian tidak diingini. Itulah situasi yang terpaksa dihadapi kira-kira 500 penduduk di Taman Seri Timah sejak Ogos 2003.Tinjauan Sentral bulan lalu mendapati struktur 150 unit rumah daripada 440 unit rumah di taman perumahan itu retak bagaikan menanti belah. Keretakan begitu ketara pada dinding dan siling.Penduduk risau dan bimbang jika tiada sebarang pemulihan atau tindakan dilakukan keadaan menjadi semakin teruk dan tidak mustahil berlaku runtuhan.Penduduk di taman itu mendakwa keretakan berpunca daripada kerja mengorek tanah untuk projek pembinaan banglo mewah di tanah bersebelahan taman perumahan itu.Penduduk juga mendakwa kerja berkenaan menyebabkan tanah bekas lombong besi itu cepat mendap. Isu itu pernah disiarkan dalam beberapa akhbar tempatan pada 2003, tetapi keadaan rumah teres di taman perumahan itu semakin terjejas.Taman Seri Timah berasal daripada lombong besi pada sekitar 80-an dan dimajukan sebagai projek perumahan untuk bekas pekerja lombong oleh kerajaan Selangor pada 1983.Bekas pelombong, Teh Kin Hai, 72, berkata tindakan pemaju banglo yang mengorek tanah di sebelah Taman Seri Timah mengakibatkan hakisan tanah yang membimbangkan penduduk terutama penghuni di Jalan Seri Timah 1 kerana kawasan hakisan tanah hanya terletak kira-kira satu meter dari dapur rumah.“Kami bimbang keselamatan kerana takut rumah akan runtuh pada bila-bila masa saja tanpa diketahui. Jika pemaju terbabit masih meneruskan kerja mereka, tentu akan berlaku hakisan tanah yang teruk pada masa depan.“Kawasan ini adalah bekas lombong besi, tanahnya bercampur dengan pasir dan batu dan tidak sekukuh seperti tanah biasa,” katanya, baru-baru ini.Penduduk Lim Hock Keng, 64, berkata penduduk mula berasa mendapan tanah tiga tahun lalu.Beliau berkata, penduduk tidak membantah pembinaan banglo itu, tetapi harus mengikut kriteria yang ditetapkan supaya tidak mengancam keselamatan taman perumahan berdekatan.“Berdasarkan pengalaman saya sepanjang 30 tahun bekerja sebagai pelombong besi, penghadang hakisan yang dibina mesti enam meter dari rumah terdekat.“Jika penghadang hakisan dibina kurang daripada enam meter, penghadang itu tidak mampu mengelakkan hakisan tanah,” katanya.Ahli Parlimen Serdang, Datuk Yap Pian Hon, berkata mengikut laporan Jabatan Mineral dan Geosains Malaysia (Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan) pada 24 Mei 2003, keretakan dipercayai disebabkan pemendapan tanah hasil kerja pengorekan tanah daripada projek banglo itu.Katanya, dia sudah menghantar laporan mengenai kejadian itu kepada Majlis Perbandaran Kajang (MPKj), malangnya tiada tindak balas.

Skop: Ecolog kurangkan kemusnahan struktur hutan

Berita Harian 28 mac 2001

INSTITUT Penyelidikan Perhutanan Malaysia (Frim) sentiasa peka untuk melaksanakan pelbagai kegiatan dan penyelidikan bagi memastikan sektor perhutanan negara diurus dengan mapan. Pada 1999, penyelidikan dan pembangunan (R&D) dijalankan merangkumi beberapa kegiatan pengurusan hutan secara mapan, antaranya, pengurusan hutan asli, sumber bukan kayu atau rotan buluh, ladang hutan dan pemuliharaan kepelbagaian hayat hutan. Dalam bahagian akhir isu ini, Wartawan Berita Harian, MOHD YUSOF SULAIMAN, menyingkap antara penemuan terbaru Frim bagi memastikan kelestarian kawasan hijau di negara ini sentiasa terpelihara.MENYEDARI pentingnya sumbangan hutan kepada keseimbangan ekosistem, Institut Penyelidikan Perhutanan Malaysia (Frim) memperkenalkan satu kaedah pembalakan mesra alam. Kaedah pembalakan yang dikenali sebagai Ecolog – singkatan Eco Friendly Logging, dijangka dapat mengurangkan kemusnahan struktur hutan.Biasanya, balak yang ditebang akan ditarik keluar dari kawasan penebangan menggunakan jentolak. Ketika balak ditarik, tanah akan terhakis sementara pokok kecil musnah. Keadaan ini menyebabkan struktur tanah dan hutan berubah. Akibatnya, hutan terdedah dengan bahaya hakisan, banjir lumpur dan tanah runtuh. Bagaimanapun, melalui Ecolog, perkara itu dapat dikurangkan. Menurut Pengarah Bahagian Hutan Asli Frim, Dr Shamsudin Ibrahim, Ecolog adalah penemuan terbaru Frim bagi memastikan kegiatan pembalakan di negara ini, memenuhi kriteria pengurusan hutan secara mapan.Katanya, berdasarkan hasil uji kaji yang dijalankan di hutan simpan Jerangau, Terengganu dan hutan simpan Temenggor, Perak, kesan kemusnahan tanah dan pokok lebih minimum daripada kaedah pembalakan biasa. “Hasil uji kaji mendapati peratusan kemusnahan tanah dan pokok akibat laluan kayu balak lebih kecil berbanding sebelum ini,” katanya.Beliau berkata, oleh kerana kurang berlaku hakisan tanah dan kemusnahan pokok, kualiti air dan struktur tanah di kawasan itu tidak terjejas.Dr Shamsudin berkata, penemuan Ecolog dijangka dapat menjamin kelestarian hutan sebagai ejen utama keseimbangan ekosistem ini.Ecolog adalah beberapa komponen utama iaitu sebuah kon, kabel besi dan win (jentera) hidraulik. Beliau berkata, kon akan dipasang pada bahagian hadapan kayu balak yang hendak ditarik. Setelah itu, balak ditarik menggunakan win hidraulik yang diletakkan di bahagian permatang hutan - bukan kawasan penebangan, melalui lorong yang disediakan. Katanya, proses penarikan keluar itu akan dilakukan berulang sehingga kayu balak yang ditebang berjaya dikeluarkan. Dr Shamsudin berkata, hasil uji kaji menunjukkan hampir 15 hingga 20 balak berjaya dikeluarkan dalam sehari.“Walaupun produktivitinya berkurangan, ia tetap menguntungkan, terutama kepada mutu hutan di negara ini,” katanya.Melalui Ecolog, ia menunjukkan keprihatinan kerajaan kepada dunia bahawa hutan negara sentiasa dipelihara. “Ini yang dikatakan pengurusan mapan, iaitu memanfaatkan hutan bagi tujuan pembangunan dan dalam masa sama mengekalkan fungsi hutan kepada alam sekitar,” katanya.Sehubungan itu, beliau berharap agar kaedah pembalakan yang diperkenalkan itu dapat dimanfaatkan pembalak di negara ini. Mereka tidak boleh sesekali berdalih bahawa kaedah itu kurang produktif atau mahal.Katanya, kos keseluruhan Ecolog dianggarkan di antara RM150,000 dan RM 200,000.“Pembalak tidak boleh mementingkan keuntungan semata-mata. Mereka perlu berkorban dan terbabit dalam kegiatan pemuliharaan dan pemeliharaan hutan di negara ini,” katanya.Beliau berkata, tanpa kesedaran, apa jua langkah yang diperkenalkan dan kempen yang dijalankan kerajaan tidak akan menjamin kelangsungan sumbangan hutan kepada manusia.“Sebagai badan yang bertanggungjawab memastikan hutan diurus dengan mapan, Frim sentiasa bertindak proaktif mengenegahkan pelbagai penyelidikan ke arah keseimbangan hutan di negara ini,” katanya.Frim sebelum ini memperkenalkan banyak langkah bagi memastikan kaedah pembalakan yang dipraktikkan memenuhi piawaian pengurusan hutan yang mapan dan menjamin keseimbangan alam sekitar.Menurutnya, dalam kegiatan tanaman semula terutama di kawasan Betau - kawasan penempatan kayu balak yang ditinggalkan, Bahagian Hutan Asli memperkenalkan satu alat yang dikenali sebagai Bob Cat.Katanya, alat itu memudahkan pembalak mengorek lubang bagi tujuan penanaman semula anak pokok.

Ilmuwan: Pertanian Organik cegah kontaminasi nitrat pada air

Ani Purwati - 31 Jul 2007 17:53

Walaupun dapat meningkatkan produksi hasil tanam, penambahan nutrisi (pupuk) pada tanah juga dapat melepaskan nutrisi, dan mencemari suplai air. Studi terbaru para peneliti di University of Minnesota menunjukkan, praktik pertanian alternatif dapat membantu melindungi lingkungan dengan mengurangi kadar nitrat pada air permukaan dan tanah yang disebabkan pemakaian pupuk konvensional.
Nitrogen adalah salah satu elemen terpenting yang dibutuhkan dalam produksi sistem pertanian. Ketika perlakuan dengan sejumlah pupuk nitrogen untuk mengoptimalkan lahan tanaman dan meminimalkan kerusakan lingkungan, sebagian besar nitrogen menimbulkan lepasnya nitrat.
Nitrat berasal dari nitrogen, lepas melalui air tanah. Di wilayah dimana drainase di bawah permukaan tanah digunakan dalam pertumbuhan tanaman, kadar nitrat yang tinggi dialirkan ke hilir. Kontaminasi nitrat pada air dapat mengakibatkan air menjadi kekurangan oksigen (hypoxic) dan menekan kehidupan air di hilir.
"Tantangan bagi industri, petani, ahli pertanian, dan pemerhati lingkungan lainnya untuk mengembangkan sistem pertanian yang efisien menurut tingkat produksi ekonomis dengan memperkecil degradasi air tanah dan permukaan," kata Jeff Strock, ilmuwan dalam studi ini.
Untuk mengurangi polusi pertanian, Strock dan peneliti lainnya mengukur hilangnya nitrat dan air pada pertanian konvensional dan sistem pertanian alternatif selama periode tiga tahun di Minnesota barat daya.
Para peneliti memperlakukan praktik pertanian konvensional dengan rotasi kedelai dan jagung, aplikasi pupuk anorganik serta pestisida. Sedangkan praktik pertanian alternatif dengan managemen organik yang merupakan rotasi dari bermacam tanaman termasuk jagung, kedelai, gandum, alfalfa, soba, dan gandum hitam, menggunakan suplai nutrisi dari polong-polongan dan sumber pupuk kompos atau alami lain.
Hasil studi menunjukkan bahwa sistem pertanian alternatif dapat mengurangi jumlah hilangnya air drainase sampai 41 persen dibandingkan rotasi kedelai dan jagung konvensional. Praktik pertanian alternatif juga mengurangi hilangnya nitrogen nitrat antara 59 sampai 62 persen.
"Data kami menyebutkan bahwa kuantitas dan kualitas air dapat ditingkatkan dengan menambah sistem penanaman bermacam tanaman," kata Strock.
Baik sistem pertanian konvensional maupun organik, Strock menyatakan sistem penanaman bermacam tanaman (hayati) dapat diadopsi sebagai salah satu dari beberapa praktik untuk membangun sistem managemen pertanian berkelanjutan yang produktif, menguntungkan dan ramah lingkungan.
"Tidak ada cara untuk memecahkan masalah kualitas air kita. Namun penerapan praktik seperti sistem penanaman bermacam hayati, dengan managemen nitrogen, rotasi tanaman hijau, dan penggunaan tanaman pelindung, akan membantu mencegah kontaminasi nitrat pada danau dan sungai," kata Strock.

Kemusnahan hutan

Manusia memainkan peranan penting di dalam mempengaruhi evolusi flora dan fauna selain daripada merubah komponen ekosistem hutan di sepanjang hayatnya. Kadang-kadang kegiatannya mempunyai kesan yang sedikit, sementara adakalanya manusia juga menyebabkan perubahan besar dalam vegetasi brkayu, atau kehilangan seluruh litupan pokok. Namun tidak semua ubahsuaian tersebut membawa kemusnahan, tetapi masalah yang ditimbulkan sudah cukup kerap dan cukup serius untuk menimbulkan perasaan cemas akan pantasnya pembasmian hutan berlaku dan tahapnya yang berleluasa pada hari ini. Komponen ekosistem yang ternyata dipengaruhi oleh manusia ialah hakisan tanah yang terjadi akibat aktiviti-aktiviti pembalakan dan pertanian yang tidak terkawal. Hasil daripada hakisan tanah ini juga turut memusnahkan pelbagai spesies flora dan fauna selain daripada mengubah sistem aliran air di muka bumi. Pendedahan hutan kepada tindakan manusia telah juga mempengaruhi ciri-ciri hawa dalam ekosistem hutan. Pertambahan penduduk dengan sendirinya menuntut ruang-ruang hutan yang lebih luas untuk dieksploitasikan hinggalah mengubah sistem hidupan dan ekosistem hutan dan alam sekitar itu sendiri.
Walaupun hanya cuma segelintir manusia membawa pulang binatang-binatang liar pulang ke kediaman mereka, tetapi lebih ramai manusia membeli barangan yang diperbuat daripada binatang-binatang tersebut. Misalnya, pembuatan sebuah beg tangan atau sepasang kasut kulit mungkin telah mengorbankan binatang-binatang yang menghadapi kepupusan. Setiap barangan yang dijual menggalakkan lebih banyak lagi pembunuhan binatang dan pemusnahan tumbuhan hutan hingga mengakibatkan hilangnya nilai-nilai biodiversit hutan. Oleh itu, manusia berperanan dalam mempengaruhi kepelbagaian biologi dan perubahan yang terjadi terhadap haiwan, tumbuhan dan organisma-organisma mikro ‘biodiversity’ yang terdapat di hutan.
Di zaman moden ini, kecenderungan untuk menanam satu jenis tanaman di kawasan yang luas bererti menggalakkan kehadiran serangga perosak dan penyakit. Gejala-gejala ini boleh merebak dengan cepat ke atas spesies tanaman tunggal.
Terdapat berbagai-bagai lagi cara ubahsuaian yang dilakukan oleh manusia malah ubahsuaian hutan tropika masih terus berlaku. Contohnya, terdapat kumpulan manusia yang mencari rezeki semata-mata sebagai pemburu dan pemungut. Mereka memungut bahagian tumbuh-tumbuhan liar yang boleh dimakan dan menangkap haiwan liar. Biasanya kita membayangkan jumlah penduduk nomad ini tidak ramai dan mereka hanya mengambil sedikit sahaja bahan sehinggakan kesannya terhadap hutan hujan tropika adalah amat kecil dan boleh diabaikan. Bagaimanapun, bukti terkini menunjukkan bahawa sesetengah kumpulan telah mengakibatkan kepupusan beberapa spesies serta dapat menambahkan kehadiran spesies yang lain melalui pemilihan (Padoch & Vayda 1983).
Pertanian pindah merupakan sistem utama penggunaan tanah hutan yang diamalkan oleh petani di kawasan tropika. Oleh sebab amalan ini melibatkan penebangan dan kerap kali pembakaran hutan, diikuti oleh penanaman tanaman untuk beberapa tahun, jelas sekali kesan yang besar untuk jangka masa pendek akan dialami oleh hutan. Kesan jangka masa panjang sistem pertanian pindah yang stabil mungkin agak kecil, iaitu terutamanya daripada perubahan kekerapan spesies tumbuh-tumbuhan dan spesies haiwan (misalnya mungkin terdapat lebih sedikit pokok kecil yang lembut dan mudah terbakar dan lebih banyak pokok buah-buahan dan kelapa sawit).
Bagaimanapun, jika populasi manusia yang lebih ramai menyebabkan tempoh penanaman menjadi lebih panjang dan tempoh rang pula menjadi lebih singkat, sistem pembaikan semula jadi hutan tropika tidak lagi berupaya memulih semula kawasan untuk menjadi hutan biji benih. Oleh sebab hasil pertanian lazimnya berkurangan di bawah keadaan begini, sistem maklum balas yang positif dan pantas tertubuh, dan semakin banyak tanah memberikan hasil yang lebih rendah. Akhirnya, kawasan berkenaan mungkin ditinggalkan kerana tidak lagi mampu mengeluarkan hasil pertanian yang sewajarnya. Setiap tahun, kira-kira sejuta hektar bekas kawasan hutan tropika ditinggalkan oleh petani setelah kawasan merosot sepenuhnya.
Selain perubahan yang sebahagian besarnya tidak diingini ini, hutan tropika kian banyak digantikan dengan vegetasi lain secara sengaja. Di Dunia Baru terutamanya, jalur hutan yang luas terbentang telah ditukarkan menjadi padang rumput untuk menjadi padang ragut ternakan lembu. Di beberapa kawasan yang lebih subur dan tersalir bebas di Borneo, ladang yang dikuasai lalang Imperata lebih disukai kerana lebih mudah dibersihkan. Sementara itu, kawasan pedalaman yang lebih luas di kawasan pergunungan New Guinea terdapat ladang lalang yang sudah tua yang ditanam pada jeda-jeda tertentu.
Bagaimanapun, hutan yang telah terlalu banyak ditebang kerap ditukarkan sahaja menjadi ladang atau untuk kegunaan lain, walaupun terdapat minat yang bertambah dalam perhutanan yang disepadukan dengan pertanian. Perubahan yang lebih hebat mungkin berlaku pada masa depan disebabkan perkembangan dalam mekanisasi, dan dalam teknologi pulpa spesies campuran yang membolehkan keseluruhan hutan dituai dan batangnya ditukarkan menjadi kertas.
Kesan pembasmian hutan yang paling nyata adalah penyingkiran tanah secara menyeluruh oleh larian permukaan semasa hujan lebat. Lazimnya kejadian ini lebih dahsyat lagi di kawasan cerun-cerun curam. Kesan ini sering ditemui khususnya di kawasan yang keseluruhan pokoknya telah ditebang menggunakan jentera berat, misalnya di sepanjang jalan yang baru dibina, atau selepas vegetasi berulang kali ditebang seperti dalam amalan pertanian pindah yang diiringi kitar penanaman yang kerap atau berpanjangan. Satu lagi contoh ialah hutan yang dijadikan padang rumput dan kemudian ragutan yang berlebih-lebihan diamalkan lalu menyebabkan terbentuknya galur sehingga sedalam 120 meter dan selebar 2 km seperti yang dilaporkan berlaku di Afrika Barat (Okigbo 1977).
Perubahan fizikal lain yang penting pada tanah hutan turut berlaku di kawasan lapang, di samping pemindahan sebahagian atau keseluruhan tanah hutan. Perubahan ini amat bergantung pada kaedah pembersihan yang digunakan, khususnya jika melibatkan jentera berat. Perubahan ini termasuklah perubahan dalam keupayaan tanah untuk menyimpan air, saiz liang dan penembusan air dan akar, serta nisbah komponen yang berbeza saiznya.
Selain itu, lazimnya selepas pembakaran, secara kimia tanah akan menjadi lebih sesuai untuk pertumbuhan tanaman tetapi tidak lama kemudian menjadi kurang subur - misalnya disebabkan oleh larut lesap yang berlaku begitu pantas. Tambahan pula, pembakaran meruapkan sebahagian daripada nitrogen dan sulfur, serta karbon.
Kawasan di dalam hutan yang telah diubahsuai juga lebih mudah dirosakkan oleh angin, atau berupaya menyokong perebakan api semasa cuaca kering.
Pembasmian hutan yang berleluasa mungkin juga mengubah makro-iklim, malah juga akan mengurangkan jumlah jatuhan hutan bagi kawasan sejauh beribu-ribu kilometer dari kawasan hutan yang telah dibasmi itu.
Organisma hidup di dalam ekosistem hutan amat terjejas oleh perubahan guna tanah yang berbagai-bagai cara samada secara langsung atau tidak langsung. Contohnya, pembuangan atau kematian tunggul, biji benih dan organ perenial yang lain di dalam tanah akan mengurangkan bilangan spesies tumbuh-tumbuhan tertentu, sementara yang lainnya (termasuk rumpai yang mendatangkan masalah) menjadi dominan. Jika spesies pokok dibalak secara memilih, populasinya turut berkurangan dari segi kepelbagaian genetik dan perkadaran pokok yang mempunyai bentuk batang yang sesuai untuk perhutanan. Kehilangan pendebunga atau agen penyebar bermakna pokok berkenaan akan pupus. Degradasi fauna turut berlaku. Sesetengah vertebrat yang lebih besar begitu mudah pupus jika sumber makanannya dimusnahkan atau jika bahagian hutan yang tinggal terlalu kecil utuk menampung populasi yang sedang membiak. Spesies serangga yang dahulunya mengakibatkan kerosakan kecil mungkin bertukar menjadi perosak.
Jelaslah daripada rumusan bahawa perubahan pada hutan hujan tropika kerap menghasilkan perubahan fizikal, kimia dan biologi yang mempunyai kesan jangka panjang yang sememangnya akan mengurangkan keupayaan ekosistem untuk memenuhi keperluan manusia.

Pada hakikatnya, sistem biologi yang berasaskan hutan adalah amat kompleks dan sukar difahami, begitu juga dengan keadaan hidup berbilion-bilion manusia yang bergantung sepenuhnya pada hutan. Ternyata kestabilan dan keseimbangan alam sekitar telah dipengaruhi oleh tindakan-tindakan manusia untuk menakluki kawasan-kawasan hutan melalui berbagai aktiviti seperti meneroka hutan untuk pertanian contohnya pertanian pindah oleh Orang-orang Asli, penebangan pokok yang tidak terancang, pembakaran dan lain-lain lagi. Walaupun beberapa aktiviti kadangkala bertujuan untuk membangunkan ekonomi tetapi adakalanya aktiviti-aktiviti tersebut merupakan pencabulan kawasan oleh manusia yang perlu dibendung melalui undang-undang. Hutan hujan tropika telah banyak membekalkan kita dengan spesies-spesies yang berguna terutamanya tumbuh-tumbuhan untuk makanan dan pertanian, perubatan, estetik dan industri-industri yang bersumberkan tumbuhan hutan. Seandainya hutan-hutan ini masih terus kekal, nescaya masih banyak lagi peluang yang mampu disumbangkan untuk kehidupan sejagat. Bak kata Christopher Colombus, "Kita tidak mewarisi dunia ini, tetapi kita cuma meminjamnya untuk anak-anak kita."