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Summer paddy cultivation crippled by agricultural costs and labor shortages

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Due the high costs of fertilizer, low water availability and accompanying diesel costs, and reduced amounts of workers willing to work as day laborers in summer paddies, rice farmers around Mon State have confirmed that their summer paddy harvests will fall dramatically short of the yield planned for the 2010 summer season by the Burmese government.

According and officer from the Moulmein land-records department, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) ordered the cultivation of 82,790 acres of summer rice paddies in Mon State, divided between Kyaikmayaw Township, Mudon Township, Thanphyuzayart Township, Chaung Zone Township, Ye Township and Moulmein Township. However, this source reports that as of the end of February, only 72,040 acres of summer paddies are being cultivated – over 10,000 acres short of SPDC orders.

The government ordered them [the farmers] to grow summer paddy rice in all six townships in the state. The government ordered 55,000 acres from Kyaikmayaw Township alone. Chaung Zone Township, which currently can only cultivate 60 acres of summer paddy, was originally ordered to cultivate 1,000 acres,” a retired officer of the Mon State division of the Ministry Agriculture reported.

“In order to cultivate one acre of summer paddy, I have to spend from 150,000 kyat up to 200,000 kyat, because diesel and fertilizer prices are so expensive. For one pack of fertilizer the price is over 15,000 kyat. In Kyaikmayaw Township there is no dam to provide water so we can cultivate summer paddies. So, the local farmers have to use Attran river water, and pay the diesel for the generator [to pump water from the river into irrigation pipes]. In the previous years, our village grew 300 acres of summer paddy rice. But this year we only could grow only 150 acres”, said a farmer from Kyaikmayaw Township.

According to a farmer from the Jagan and Wekaru area of Thanphyuzayart Township, even though the area’s farmers are capable of growing the 120 collective acres demanded of them by the SPDC, so many day laborers from the region have migrated to Thailand to find more lucrative work, that currently only 70 acres are being cultivated.

According to a respondent from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the Burmese government planned to harvest 3.24 million acres of summer paddy rice from all of Burma for the 2010 season, but currently only 2.04 million acres are expected.

The Burmese Weekly Eleven journal’s January 26th article, major Burmese rice traders have been forced to defer orders of rice from foreign importers, as the amount of summer rice that will be harvested is still uncertain; despite this, according the New Light of Myanmar March 2nd translation of the speech given by Senior General Than Shwe on the March 2nd celebration of “Peasant’s Day”, stated that the “nation’s rice supply has far exceeded the demands of its growing population”.

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