Fear­ing ex­treme weather, farm­ers scale back rice cul­ti­va­tion

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Last year’s floods and other ex­treme weather events have prompted many farm­ers in Aye­yarwady Delta to leave some of their land fal­low. Phyo Thiha Cho/ Myan­mar Now Aung Kywe re­mem­bers how he had to stand by help­lessly last year when mas­sive floods in the wake of Cy­clone Komen af­fected Aye­yarwady Delta and de­stroyed half of his 14 acres of paddy.

That trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence came on top of years of de­creas­ing yields, Aung Kywe said, adding that this mon­soon sea­son he will leave much of his land in Kawkatkyi Vil­lage, Zalun Town­ship, fal­low to avoid loss of money with an­other failed har­vest.

“Paddy plots on the lower-ly­ing land are al­most sure to be flooded,” he said, adding, “Paddy yields have also de­creased year by year, from 100 bas­kets per acre to 75 bas­kets.” A bas­ket of rice weighs around 25 kilo­grams.

In neigh­bour­ing Maubin Town­ship, also lo­cated in the heart of Myan­mar’s ‘rice bowl’ delta re­gion, farm­ers spoke of sim­i­lar mea­sures to limit ex­po­sure to what many be­lieve are in­creased oc­cur­rences of cli­mate change-re­lated ex­treme weather, such as drought, heat and floods.

Kyaw Minn, from Palaung vil­lage, said, “I will not grow mon­soon paddy this year, but will cul­ti­vate other sea­sonal crops when the water level drops af­ter the rainy sea­son.”

Farm­ers in the delta gen­er­ally grow two rice crops, one in the rainy sea­son and one in the cooler sea­son in lower-ly­ing ar­eas that are fed with re­ced­ing flood wa­ters. They might also grow a third, short-cy­cle crop, such as beans, in the hot months be­fore the mon­soon.

Thein Aung, chair­man of the In­de­pen­dent Farm­ers League in Ayeyawady Re­gion, said that be­cause of ris­ing con­cerns among farm­ers vast ar­eas of land will go un­cul­ti­vated this year.

“The farm­ers from our vil­lages will not be grow­ing paddy in a to­tal of 200,000 acres sit­u­ated on the low lands,” he said, be­fore adding that the im­pact on over­all paddy pro­duc­tion would prob­a­bly be limited as these fields are some of the least-pro­duc­tive tracts.

The Aye­yarwady Delta is home to many mil­lions of sub­sis­tence farm­ers whose in­come and food se­cu­rity re­lies on their an­nual har­vest, and to a lesser ex­tent fish­ing.

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