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Last Update: 19 Jan 2018
Version 8.0.3
Water Management Guidelines for Agricultural Development in Lowland Peat Swamps of Sarawak Water Management Guidelines for Agricultural Development in Lowland Peat Swamps of Sarawak
Foreword | The Manual | Contents of the Manual | Summary |

"Peat is land which cannot be walked on and water which cannot be navigated in"
Tacitus of Germania 56-117 AD
FOREWORD

The Government of Sarawak has identified the populated coastal zone of Sarawak as a major region for sustainable growth of the agricultural sector as part of its efforts to become a fully developed nation in line with the Nation's Vision 2020. By 2020 it is targeted that 2 million hectares will be developed, including Native Customary Rights Land, for oil palm plantation, sago aquaculture, paddy and miscellaneous crops including vegetables. About 300,000 hectares will be on peat of which nearly 50 % is located in the Central Region (Sibu Division) and the remaining areas are in the Northern and South Western Region of Sarawak.

The peat swamps in Sarawak are waterlogged most of the year. Drainage is needed to make these water-logged lands suitable for agriculture or other land use. The leading principle of the existing water management practice is solely based on fulfilling the drainage requirements: avoiding flooding by evacuating excess rainfall within a certain period of time. The rapid removal of excess rainfall in combination with the high permeability of the peat results in lowering overall water levels. This has the various negative consequences.

The Government has thus decided to formulate the GUIDELINES on WATER MANAGEMENT for AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT in COASTAL PEAT SWAMPS of Sarawak

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THE GUIDELINES

The Guidelines are the output of a study "Research into Drainage and Water Management Guidelines for Agricultural Development in Coastal Peat Swamps of Sarawak, Phase 1" commissioned by the Government of Sarawak through the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Sarawak (DID) as its implementing agency. Consultants have been appointed to undertake the preparation of the Guidelines as one of the output of the study.

The Guidelines provide advices on the best practice in planning, assessment, design, implementation and management of water management systems for agricultural activities in coastal peat swamps of Sarawak. This Guidelines are intended for professionals engaged in the development of coastal peat swamps allowing them:

  • To make informed decisions on the agricultural development, and
  • To recommend appropriate and sound technologies to maintain, sustain and improve the agricultural potential of the land.

The Guidelines are based on the leading principle that peat is a precious commodity that should be handled with care to prolong its life. The Manaul provides an integrated water management approach by combining the drainage, water conservation and irrigation functions. Drainage is needed to remove excess surface and subsurface water from the land , water conservation and irrigation (or sub-irrigation or 'inverse' drainage) to reduce water shortages during dry periods in order to avoid excessive subsidence.

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CONTENTS OF THE GUIDELINES

The Guidelines cover the following fields:-

  1. Characteristics of Coastal Peat Swamps
  2. Landuse
  3. Hydrology of Peat Swamps
  4. Peat Soils
  5. Pre-Drainage Investigations
  6. Water Management
  7. Off-Road Transport and Infrastructure
  8. Operation and Maintenance
  9. Maintenance
  10. Monitoring and Evaluation

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SUMMARY

The Government of Sarawak has identified the populated coastal zone of Sarawak as a major region for agricultural development. Overall 2 million hectares will be developed for oil palm, forest plantation, sago, aquaculture, paddy and miscellaneous crops including vegetables. About 300,000 hectares will be on peatland of which nearly 50% is in the Sibu Division. In the conditions for approval of major peatland development there is an additional prerequisite that:-

"Prior to commercial development of peat soils, the project proponent shall carry out a depth survey and submit a report on the long term drainability of the proposed project area. A drainage plan proposed has to be endorsed by the The Director of Irrigation and Drainage Department, Sarawak"

The present guidelines provide such a drainage plan. It provides advice on best practice in planning, assessment , design, implementation and management of water management systems for agricultural activities in coastal peat swamps of Sarawak. The guidelines are intended for professionals engaged in the development of coastal peat swamps.

There are about 2.7million hectares of peat swamps in Malaysia accounting for 8% of the total area of the country, of which 1.7 million hectares or 63 % are in the deltas and coastal plains of Sarawak. Peat Swamp in Sarawak account for 13% of the States's total land area.

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For further details please contact Assistant Director, Land Development and Water Management Division of DID, Sarawak