10,000 acres of farmland destroyed

Aug 20, 2009 (DVB), Around 10,000 acres of rice paddy fields located alongside one of Burma's major rivers have been destroyed after weeks of heavy rainfall caused extensive flooding in central Burma.

A local living near to the Sittaung river in Bago division told DVB that the river's water level started swelling on 7 August, flooding farmlands in four townships.

"The paddy plants rotted after being underwater for about 10 days. About 10,000 acres of farmlands were affected by the flood," he said.

"It'll take farmers around one month to start growing the crops all over again."

He said that farm owners, who took agricultural loans from the government to grow crops, now had no money to investment in new crops.

"The farmers receive only 8000 kyat ($US8) per an acre of farmland from the agricultural bank and they cannot get a loan for more than 10 acres," he said.

"They were already in huge debt from the previous [failed] crop and it is impossible for them to find more money to invest."

Rice is one of Burma's major exports, but the sector was hit hard and production dropped following cyclone Nargis in May last week, which was reported to have destroyed up to one million acres of farmland.

The ruling junta came under criticism after it continued to export rice at the same quantity despite the massive drop in production.

The local said it was likely that there would be low rice production this year in the area affected by he flooding.

"An acre of paddy farm produces about 60 tins [2688 litres] of rice, so the amount damaged by the flooding would be around 60,000 cups [2,688,000]," he said.

The state-run newspaper Myanma Ahlin reported yesterday that the Sittaung water level has begun subsiding in some areas.

It also warned, however, that it could go up to an emergency level of 600 centimeters within 24 hours, starting from yesterday morning.

Reporting Naw Noreen

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