Bago Farmers Face Huge Debts as Newly Seeded Fields Wiped Out by Floods

By Thazin Hlaing 1 August 2018

YANGON—Local farmers in Bago Region’s Shwegyin Township are facing heavy debts after their paddy fields were flooded just days after they seeded and applied fertilizer to them.

“Our fields have been flooded for nearly a week,” U Kyaw Hsan Win, a farmer from Nyaung Bin Gyi village, told The Irrawaddy.

“We’ve lost around 150,000 kyats per acre. Luckily, I used direct seeding. If I had used the transplanting method, it would require weeding and would have cost even more,” he added.

Shwegyin’s villages have been inundated since July 25. The water subsided a little on July 30, but most of the houses, roads and farmland remain flooded.

“We took out loans from the government. We borrowed around 1 million kyats for 7 acres. Now, we will have to borrow money from others [to replant the crops],” said Ma May Pearl Wah of Wyne Pyin village.

The floodwaters rose so rapidly that the farmers had no time to prepare, leaving them with huge losses.

“We haven’t seen severe flooding for a few years, so people grew complacent. They sowed their seeds assuming there wouldn’t be flooding. Now, all the fields are inundated,” said Ma Thin Pa Pa Soe of Nyaung Bin Gyi village.

According to the Disaster Management Center, over 77,000 residents of Bago Region have been dislocated by flooding on the Sittaung and Bago rivers.

Of the 45,305 acres of farmland in Shwegyin, 25,500 acres have been inundated, according to July 31 records from the township’s Agriculture Department.

“We will use all means at our disposal to try to replant those paddy fields,” department head Daw Thet Thet Khaing told The Irrawaddy.

Floods have dislocated 27,266 people from 17 wards and village tracts in Shwegyin, and around 70 schools have been temporarily closed, according to the township’s General Administration Department.