Myanmar’s farmers are expecting a poor rice harvest this monsoon growing season as soaring prices for fertilizer and pesticide mean many are unable to afford agricultural chemicals.
Before last year’s coup, the price of a sack of urea fertilizer was 60,000 kyats. It has now doubled to 120,000 kyats per sack. At the same time, the price of pesticide has more than tripled, rising from 20,000 kyats per gallon to over 70,000 kyats.
The huge price increases mean that many farmers in Yangon, Bago and Ayeyarwady regions are using fewer agricultural chemicals on their fields. As a consequence, the rice harvest per acre is expected to decline by nearly 60 per cent.
One farmer from Yangon’s Kawhmu Township said: “In my paddy fields the grass is growing more quickly than rice because I can’t afford to use pesticide. The price of pesticide today is as much as 78,000 kyats per gallon. Many farmers are struggling even to feed themselves. They can’t afford fertilizer and pesticide, so the rice harvest will definitely decline.”
A farmer from Ayeyarwady Region said: “We have had to reduce the use of fertilizer by half. This will negatively affect the yield.”
Farming costs for the monsoon paddy growing season have significantly increased from 300,000 kyats before the coup to over 500,000 kyats now.
In Sagaing Region, known as Myanmar’s rice bowl, the majority of farmers have been unable to grow the usual amount of paddy because of both rising costs and raids on their villages by regime forces.
A grower in Sagaing Region said: “We have to take a lot of things into consideration as our region is not stable. And there is also no market for what we grow. We have to spend large amounts on chemicals as prices have increased. If in the past we grew ten acres of rice, now it is a struggle to grow one acre. And, of course, we have to flee junta raids as well.”
Myanmar imports agricultural chemicals from Brunei, China, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and India.
The military regime’s committee for the procurement and supply of urea fertilizer said it has imported 177,000 tons of fertilizer since May, and that 115.000 tones have been sold so far.