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Department Of Agriculture Sarawak



SARATANI ARC 2: A Promising New Short Term Rice Variety

Saratani is a short term rice variety suitable for double cropping in Sarawak. This variety is the outcome of extensive selection and evaluation of materials originally introduced from Thailand. Saratani was first released for planting to farmers at Tg. Purun, Pueh and Paloh in 1996. The variety is well received and large scale cultivation of Saratani is evident in Paloh.

One of the objectives of rice research at the Agriculture Research Centre, Semongok, is to evaluate and develop improved short term high yielding varieties which are able to adapt to variable conditions. A variety such as Saratani which matures early, will give the farmer a longer turn around time in which to grow a second crop of rice or other cash crops.

Rice Cultivation In Sarawak

Rice field in Sarawak are small and generally do not have the basic infrastructure required for double cropping. The fields are not well leveled and not irrigated. The rice environment, in Sarawak, is therefore very diverse and unpredictable. Rice fields are prone to floods, drought and other soil constraints. Due to these prevailing problems, farmers plant a single crop rice per season. Their choice is usually their own traditional variety which has been well adapted to uncertain changes in the environment. It is normal for the farmers to plant rice and then return 3-4 months later to harvest the crop. The traditional varieties are not responsive to fertiliser application and are low yielders.

Characteristics of Saratani

The plant is of medium heigh with stems (culms) measuring about 105-110 cm. The stems are strong and do not lodge easily. This variety is suitable for transplanting and direct seeding.

Milled graines are long and slender measuring 6.95 mm long and 2.05 mm wide and lenght/ width ration of 3.39. It has a total milling quality of 76% and head rice recovery of 77%. The amylose content is high at 29%. Individual grains are large and glosst and do not stick together when cooked.

Saratani grows well in both irrigated and rainfed ares. During the main season, this variety can be harvested 118 days from the date of sowing, while during the off season 116 days. In areas when water and crop management is good, Saratani can produce a yield of 4.5-6.0 t/ha. Saratani is highly resistant to blast.

Agronomic Practices

The variety Saratani is suitable for transplanting and direct seeding. Transplanting involves growing rice seedlings in seed beds before they are planted in the field. Seeding rate of 25 kg/ha is recommended. Transplanting is done when the seedlings are 21-25 days old. Three to four seedlings are recommended for each planting point. The seedlings should be planted 1.5 cm to 3 cm deep. If planted too deep, tillering is inhibited. The recommended planting distance is 20 cm x 20 cm to ensure good vegetative growth so that the plants produce maximum number of productive tillers. If direct seeding is practised, the recommended seedlings rate is 60 kg/ha.

Fertiliser Application

Fertiliser application is important to ensure good plant establishment and uniform ripening. Two weeks after transplanting 30 kg N, 40 kg P205 and 30 kg M20 are applied per hectare followed by another 20 kg N per hectare at the maximum tillering stage.

Water Management

In areas where irrigation water is available the fields should be kept flooded to control weeds, pests and diseases. Weed and pest control are important in rainfed areas.


It is recommended that the paddy is harvested when 85% of the grains are straw coloured. This is to reduce losses due to shortening and attack from birds, insects and rats.

Comparison Of Saratani With Other Rice Varieties

Saratani matures about 3-4 weeks earlier that MR 30, another medium term variety, and 4-6 weeks earlier than traditional varieties such as Biris, Rotan and Bario. In addition, Saratani is also a good yielder capable of producing 4.5-6.0 t/ha compared to 3.0-4.9 t/ha for MR 30 and 2.8-3.5 t/ha for traditional varieties.


Contribution: Agriculture Research Centre / Farmers' Bulletin Jan - Feb 2005


The miding plant is a member of the Blechnaceae family and is botanically known as Stenochlaena palustris (Burm.f.) Bedd. It is a rhizomatous and epiphytic perennial with its base rooted to the soil. The fern is commontly found growing in fresh water and peat swamps area as well in secondary jungle.

The frond tips, with or without open or expanded leaves are used traditionally as a vegetable. Fronds with very narrow modified leaves bearing the spores for dispersal are not usually eaten. The frond colour varies from light green to dark green or even different shades of red. Fertile fronds and the red colouring are produced in produced in response to unfavourable environment changes like dry weather and haze.

Frond Grading

Grade A - frond curls with no open leaf
Grade B - frond curls with 2-4 open leaves
Grade C - frond curls with many open leaves


Planting Material and Nursery

Miding can be propagated from the spores or vegetative parts such as the rhizomatous stems. Stem cuttings 25-30 cm long with 406 nodes and some leaves are collected from wild plants. The cuttings are inserted into small polybags 10 x 25 cm (4" x 8") filled with top soil. About 2/3 of the length must be inside the soil. Polybags planted with cuttings are placed under 60-80% shade for about 2-3 weeks after which they are gradually exposed to full sun. During this period watering must be done frequently. A few granules of fertiliser and a few spoonfulls of well rotted organic manure will be beneficial for growth. After about 3-4 months the cuttings will be ready for transplanting into the field.

Field Planting

Miding is adapted to growing in various types of soils and conditions, from lowland acid sulphate flats, peat swamps to hilly mineral soils. On hilly areas, the area chosen for growing miding should be moist to wet, groth and frond production are restricted if the plant is subjected to water stress. Miding planted on wet to moist soil near to a water source will yield well.

Rooted cuttings are transplanted to flats or beds measuring 1.2-1.5 m wide. The plants are spaced 60x60 cm in double-rows or 30 cm signle central row. Allow 1.5-1.8 m inter-flat or inter-row spacing for easily passage. About 10,000 plants are rewuired for successful and quick establishment of a one hectare plot.


Miding does not require much fertilisers input. Once or twice a month applications of 200-400 g/m2 well rotted and 10-20 g/m2 15:15:15 or 12:12:15 atau 12:12:17:2 fertiliser will bring the crop to full protection in 6-8 months. Depending on the soil fertility, the frequency of application may be increased to once in 2-3 weeks during production. Over manuring has been shown to decrease yield.

Training and Management

Miding may be planted on flats or trained to climb posts, live support or other suitable structures that will allow more surface area to enhance yield. When planted on flats, the plants crawl on the ground. Productive stems tend to become slender and grow upwareds. When these shoots give rice to small weak fronds, they should be cut off to encourage the growth of new shoots. Old leaves and shoots may be pruned once every 6 months to allow new growth.

Because a post provides more surface area for shoots to grow on, theoretically, this system of planting could produce more pronds. Climbing posts are spaced 1 m within rows and 1.5-1.8 m apart. For ease of harvests, the height pf the posts should not be more thatn 150 m (5') above ground. As in the flats planting system, old leaves and shoots should also be pruned. Compared to planting on flats, the first harvest is slightly delayed. Other system for training miding are being investigated at the Research Centre.

Weeding is essential during the establishment phase. When fully grown, the crop meeds weeding. Do not apply any herbicide for weed control as the ferns are very sensitive to it. During dry periods irrigation is useful especially on higher grounds. Pests and diseases are not common or serious and no chemical application is necessary. Because miding cultivation requires minimal chemical input it can be produced organically.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest

Young fronds are harvested once every 3 days and normally when they are dry from the morning dew or during late afternoon. Harvesting is done by plucking, a quick snap action at the lower portion of the frond curls using the thumb and the forefinger. The fronds are collected in a basket and graded for sale.

Financial Returns

It is estimated that in order to have one hectare of miding RM4000 - RM6000 is required. Most of these goes into establishment of the plot, especially if the miding is planted on posts, and harvesting. Part-time or family labour for harvesting can reduce the production cost. If sold at farm-gate price of RM4-8/kg for Grade A fronds, a net margin of can be expected.

Contribution by
: SRO Chai Chen Chong (SRO, ARC Semongok / Farmers Bulletin Jan-Feb 2005)


SHALLOT - Potential for growing in the lowlands 


Shallot (Allium ascalonicum L.) is a form of Allium cepa L. It differs from the common onion group because it produces a cluster of bulbs from a single planted bulb and is a small stature plant.

Shallot, locally known as 'bawang merah' is a very important ingredient in most Malaysia dishes. It is used as food, spice and seasoning. It is often eaten raw, used for pickling, cooking and frying.


It is mainly imported from India and China. The Indian varieties are more pungent, red in colour and the bulbs are globular. The Chinese varieties are les pungent, brownish in colour and the bulbs are ovoid.

Planting Materials

It can either be propagated from bulbs or tree seeds. Bulbs are usually preferred because they are easier to establish and have shoter growing period.

Small to medium sized bulbs are used for planting. About ¼ of the top part of the bulb is cut iff to enhance germination. The bulb is then soaked in 0.1 % a.i. Thiram or Benlate solution for 1-2 hours and drained prior to planting.

If shallots are grown from true seeds, it must be sown in a nursery and transplanted to the field when the seedlings are 5-6 weeks old.

Land Preparation

Shallot grows best in well drained sandy loam soil. The field is prepared by removing all existing vegetation followed by ploughing. Beds measuring 1.2 m wide and 20-30 cm high are constructed 50 cm apart. Prepared beds are applied with 200g/m2 dolomite, 1.0kg/m2 chicken dung and 160g/m2 compound fertilizer 12:12:17:2 + TE before planting.


Bulbs are planted on raised beds covered with mulches. They are spaced at 15-20 cm within rows and 20cm between rows. Planting must be shallow with the top of the bulb remaining visible. One bulb per point is planted.


The beds are top-dressed with 120g/m2 compound fertilizer 12:12:17:2 + TE at t and 5 weeks after planting. Foliar fertilizer is givem at 4 and 6 weeks after planting.


Watering is very critical during the vegetative and bulbing stages of shallot growth. The plants must be watered twice daily especially during the dry weather. Watering frequency is reduced once the bulb is near to maturity. Watering has to be stopped completely one week prior to harvesting.


Some varieities of shallot produce inflorescene spears. These has to be removed in order to conserve the food for bulb developemtn. The inflorescene spears can either be used as food or for floral arrangement.

Pest and Disease

Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) are the major pest of shallots. Their attack leaves results dramatic reduction in foliage quality. Use Malathion to control thrips at 0.75 - 1.5 kg per ha or Fenitrothion at 0.1 - 0.5 kg per ha.

Downy mildew (Peronosphora destructor) and Purple Blotch (Alternaria porri) are the major leaf diseases in shalot. These diseases can be controlled using Copper fungicide at 0.2% a.1. for treating the downy milder and for the purple blotch, Maneb, Mencozeb or Zineb could be used.

Bulb rot is caused by Fusarium sp. Regular spraying of Benlate or Mancozeb gives effective control. Avoid planting during the wet season.


Harvesting period must not coincide with the wet or 'landas' seasin to minimise bulb rot. The buls are harvested 8-9 weeks after planting. Mature bulbs are ready for harvesting when the tops fall over and the leaves dried up. The uprooted bulbs are air-dried for 10-14 days. Dried leaves are cut off about 2.5 cm from the bulb and the outer scale leaves removed. The cleaned bulbs are air dried for another week before storing and selling. No direct drying of the bulbs should be carried out to avoid scorching damage.


Bulbs are graded according to sizes. Super grade bulbs have diameter of 2.5 cm or more, grade A bulbs 1.9-2.5cm and grade B buls 1.3-1.9cm.


With good management and favourable weather conditions, a yield of 6-8 t/ha can be obtained.

Financial Returns

It is estimated that the total cost for one hectare of shallot production is RM19,400.00. Most of this goes to the purchase of planting materials and fertilizers. The net return (assuming yield of 6 t/ha at RM3.50/ kg) is RM1,600.00.

SRO Lim Lee, Lee Agriculture Research Centre