Rangoon Farmers Rue Lost Rice Paddies

By Zarni Mann 11 July 2012

More than 3,000 acres of paddy fields in Thone Kwa Township in southern Rangoon Division have been destroyed by flooding following heavy rains, say local farmers. Some 40 villages are affected, including Lattpan, Kan Myint and Taung Moe Kan Kwin.

The farmers said a lack of flowing water from the main dyke in the town has exacerbated the situation.

“The dyke is not working properly. Every time it rains heavily, water remains blocked in muddy channels at the upper end of the dyke,” said Wunna Htun, a farmer from Lattpan, adding that farmers living in the lower areas are doubly suffering because seawater has contaminated the soil.

“We’ve submitted several letters [to local authorities] concerning this matter, but it has been totally neglected,”he added.

He said that the current rice harvest has been destroyed, and the price of seeds has increased.

“We have to re-plough our fields and regrow the crops,” he said. “We need about three baskets of seeds per acre. However, the price of seed has gone up from 100,000 kyat [US $115] to 350,000 kyat [$400] per 100-basket [18 gallons].”

Speaking to The Irrawaddy, a farmer from Thone Kwa said, “We face flooding problems at least three times a year. In the past, we wouldn’t dare complain to the authorities, but under the new government we believe we have the right to call for action. What we are saying is that the dyke is causing more problems than it is worth.”

Thone Kwa Dyke was constructed in 2005 with the aim of preventing seawater from inundating local lands.

However, an officer from the Thone Kwa Township administration bureau told The Irrawaddy that many of the farmers’ claims were untrue and that the local authorities had the situation under control.

“There is nothing like that going on,” he said of the farmers’ claims that the dyke was causing additional damage. “The township administration officer went personally to the region and is taking care of any flooding problems.”