Farmers in Pyapone in heavy debt

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Farmers in Irrawaddy delta’s Pyapone Township are stepped in severe debt as paddy yield has fallen to nearly one-third in the aftermath of the deadly cyclone Nargis that lashed the region in early May.

A rice merchant in Pyapone Township, one of the worst affected areas, said farmers are in deep trouble as they failed to produce sufficient paddy to repay their debts. They had taken loans to cultivate their land devastated in the cyclone.

He said some of the farmers, who normally produced at least 900 baskets (a basket is approximately 40 kilograms) from 18 acres of land, produced only 300 baskets.

“The decreasing yield is basically because of salinity in the land,” said the merchant, adding that the decline in the prices of paddy in the market has added to the farmers’ agony.

Most farmers in Pyapone Township and other parts of the Irrawaddy delta had taken loans to sow in the last season. But with the decrease in paddy yield and unexpected fall in prices, they were unable to earn enough money to repay the loans, the merchant explained.

“At this rate, the farmers might not be able to cultivate summer crops because they face severe shortage of money and are under heavy debt,” he said.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Cyclone Nargis left at least 570,000 hectares of farm land inundated in seawater and killed about 120,000 water buffalos or draught animals, leaving farmers struggling to continue with cultivation.

The FAO has said, following the cyclone at least 51,000 farmers are in need of help for cultivation.

“My friend owns 18 acres of land and he took about 3 million Kyat as loan to cultivate but he was only able to get back about 1.2 million Kyat from selling all paddy and now he is faced with a huge debt,” the merchant added.


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