Burma counts cost of drought and flooding
By AYE NAI
Tens of thousands of acres of farmland across Burma were destroyed by extreme elements of both flooding and drought during the seasonal monsoon in August, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.
Farmland was severely affected by floodwaters in Karen, Mon, Arakan and Shan states, and Pegu, Rangoon and Irrawaddy divisions. Meanwhile, in central Burma’s Sagaing, Mandalay and Magwe divisions a complete lack of rain killed crops.
Hla Kyaw, acting director of the ministry’s Department of Agricultural Planning, said a total of around 40,000 acres of farmland were destroyed by the flooding in lower and eastern Burma.
“Although 40,000 acres of farmland were destroyed, we believe 80 percent of the rice and crops can be regrown,” said Hla Kyaw.
“Regional governments and the Agricultural Planning Department are providing farmers with seeds and fertiliser to regrow their crops,” he added.
Meanwhile, in the dry plains of Magwe division, a local from the town of Myaing told DVB that bean and sesame harvests were devastated by the drought, and said that many farmers and villagers had to seek employment elsewhere.
“It is too difficult to grow crops when there is no rain,” he said. “Some youths have gone to Hpakant to work in the jade mines; others headed to Malaysia or other cities in Burma to look for jobs.”
In the nearby town of Pakokku, a farmer said that his crop of beans had been destroyed twice this year because of a lack of rain.
“I had to borrow money to replant my crops after the first harvest died,” he explained. “But they perished a second time as the drought continued.”
In a public speech on 1 September, Burma’s President Thein Sein said the central government, in cooperation with regional authorities, were working to tackle issues within the agricultural sector. He acknowledged that many farmers had been set back by the unseasonal weather phenomena, but pledged to implement preventative measures in the coming years to minimise losses.