Bago farmers forced to buy costly rice seed

Jan 19, 2009 (DVB), Authorities in Bago division’s Tharawaddy township have ordered local farmers to grow only rice seedlings sold by the agricultural department, according to a farmer from the area.

One tin of sinnweyin rice seeds from the agricultural department costs 5000 kyat, compared to 2000 kyat for a tin regular rice seedlings, a farmer said.

The rice sold by the agricultural department grows more quickly and can be harvested 100 days after planting instead of the usual 120-130 days, but farmers said the high cost of the seeds and lack of water for irrigation cancelled out any benefits.

Farmers in Chaung Thone-gwa village in Tharawaddy township have been forced to grow 500 acres of rice using the seeds, according to one farmer.

"The young plants are about a month and a half old but we are facing difficulties because we still haven’t got any water," the farmer said.

According to the farmers, affordable fertiliser would have much more of an impact on the rice yield than using a different type of seed.

The government price for a bag of fertiliser is 21000, cheaper than the black market price of 21500 kyat, but farmers said they were forced to contribute to officials' funds in order to buy the cheaper fertiliser, making it more expensive.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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