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Rice farmers struggling with lack of fertiliser

Sep 2, 2008 (DVB), Farmers in the Irrawaddy delta who have been facing various difficulties since Cyclone Nargis are in danger of losing their young rice plants due to insufficient supplies of fertiliser.

The young plants were planted in haste to try to recoup the farmers' losses in the cyclone and they urgently need fertiliser to grow, a farmer told DVB.

"I thought that the crops would be good because silt entered the fields," the farmer said.

"But the saltwater in the fields meant that the plants didn't grow as much as I thought. If we cannot get sufficient fertiliser, there is a big possibility that the fields could all be ruined," he said.

"The cost of fertiliser is about 35,000 kyat for one acre, so if you have many acres it can get very expensive."

So far, the authorities have not provided the necessary support to farmers, and increasingly few private donors are giving assistance, said farmers from Dadaye township.

While some farmers have been able to borrow money from friends and relatives to buy fertiliser, others are struggling to survive.

Not only did the farmers lose all their mature rice plants in the cyclone, but they have also had to find the money for new rice plants which they have attempted to plant four or five times but have failed to grow.

Even when they have been able to sow the rice seeds successfully, the farmers have faced problems keeping the plants alive without sufficient fertiliser.

Farmers in Pyapon township are facing similar difficulties, and have been unable to till their paddy fields due to lack of assistance.

Production of the famous Pyapon 'paw-san-hmway' rice is likely to drop due to poor quality rice seed and more lower-quality rice will be harvested this year, local farmers said.

In Bogalay township, farmers have also faced severe problems restarting farming after the cyclone and are struggling to find the money to buy the fuel and paddy seeds they need from local authorities.

Farmers have also been told by local authorities that their land will be confiscated if they do not grow any rice this year.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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