Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Burmese Rice Farmers Struggle to Make a Living

Farmers till a field while water buffaloes and calves feed near
Kungyangone Township in Rangoon Division.
(Photo: Tint Aung/The Irrawaddy)

(Irrawaddy News) -The destruction wrought by Cyclone Nargis, combined with falling world prices, is hitting Burmese rice farmers hard, with many of them complaining they are working at a loss.

Sub-standard seeds and inadequate stocks of fertilizer are also taking their toll on Burmese rice production, particularly in the cyclone-devastated Irrawaddy delta.

A farmer in Nyaung Laybin Township, Pegu Division, said income from the sale of his rice amounted to 70,000 kyat (US $59) per acre, while production costs were about 90,000 kyat ($78).

Recent rice harvests in cyclone-hit areas of Irrawaddy and Rangoon Divisions had dropped by at least 35 percent, farmers report.

Khin Maung Nyo, a Rangoon-based economic analyst, said the global financial crisis also played a major role. Businessmen were withdrawing from the rice market. “We are facing liquidity problems,” he said.

About 70 percent of Burmese rice millers are unable to invest any further in their businesses because of the cyclone, and 70 percent of stockpiled paddy had been depleted, Aung Than Oo, chairman of the Myanmar Rice Miller and Crops Traders Association, told the Rangoon-based Weekly Eleven journal.

“Most of the rice millers in the country suffered heavy losses owing to the cyclone,” he was quoted by the journal’s Web site as saying. “Their purchasing power went down about 70 percent. That is why the trading is low in the domestic crop market. These businesspeople usually sell the stored crops of the previous year, and they buy the new seasonal paddy. But after cyclone Nargis they could not purchase the crops any more.”

Aung Than Oo said merchants had low capital. The price of paddy dropped from 575,000 kyat ($500) per ton in July 2008 to a current level of 287,500 kyat (US$ 250).

“Although some merchants wanted to export the paddy, they cannot afford the necessary investment,” Aung Than Oo said.

Burma has two rice harvests—the summer paddy, planted in April and harvested in late December, and the monsoon harvest, planted in May and harvested in December.

“We didn’t plant the summer paddy because we haven’t enough money,” said farmer Win Maung, who owns 10 acres of paddy in Pegu Township.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too