PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — Local farmers in Labutta Township, Irrawaddy Division, are facing hardship after their rice paddies were flooded by saltwater, wiping out several farmers’ entire harvests.
Seawater inundated the paddy fields after a sluice gate burst near Thinganlay village in Labutta Township in late August. Standing seawater remained in many paddy fields for more than a month, destroying the plants.
“My farm was inundated since the 10th of September. I have 40 acres of farmland and 20 acres were destroyed by the flooding, which lasted for more than a month,” said farmer Hla Aye from Thinganlay village.
“Around 15 farmers in the village have not harvested at all. Nearly 3,000 acres of farms were inundated and almost 1,500 acres were destroyed,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Farms in Thinganlay, Aungzangon, Nalinkyaw and other villages in Labutta Township’s Sin Kyay Yar village tract were inundated with seawater, and financial losses are estimated at more than 80 million kyats (US$80,000), local farmers said.
Farmers from Thinganlay village said that although they reported the case to the Labutta Township Irrigation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the department denied any responsibility for their losses.
After asking the Irrigation Department to rebuild the sluice gate and build an embankment to prevent future flooding, the department replied that “it was not their business because we built the sluice gate on a self-reliant basis,” said Thinganlay village local Aung Aung.
However, the department did recently repair the sluice gate after the case was reported in a local journal, locals said.
Myo Zaw, deputy head of the Irrawaddy Division Agriculture Department, said the relevant authorities had been instructed to assess the condition of the inundated paddy fields and help farmers pay back any outstanding agricultural loans in installments.
“We’ll coordinate with the concerned agricultural banks and authorities and make sure that the farmers can repay their agricultural loans in installments,” he said.
In August, more than 600 acres of farmland was destroyed in Yekyi Township, Irrawaddy Division, because fishermen had artificially dammed a nearby lake.