Farmers Face Massive Losses Due to Flooding

The flooding of 30,000 acres of paddy fields in Mon State’s Paung Township is a huge blow to local farmers.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Nearly a quarter of all paddy fields in Mon State’s Poung Township are under water due to flooding caused by an obstructed sluice gate at the Kataik Dam.

Farmers in Paung Township, which is the state’s largest producer of rice, say a total of 30,000 acres in 11 villages, including Yin Nyein Taung, Phyuba, Thae Kon, Kyon Haw, and Pang Kon, are affected by the recent flooding.

“We’ve been growing rice here for the past 12 years. We depend on the Kataik Dam for water to irrigate our fields. Everything was fine in the past, but for the past three years, we’ve had to deal with this flooding. Farmers have lost a lot,” said Lwin Aye, a local farmer who spoke to NMG.

The problem is caused by a buildup of mud at the sluice gate—something that rarely happened until farmers started using water from the canal to irrigate their fields in the dry season. This lowered the flow of water going through the gate, making it more difficult to force the mud out of the way.

Farmers say that they have to spend 150,000 kyat ($99) on each acre of paddy field cultivated during the rainy season, which has just begun. For some, like Phwar Thet, whose 10 acres have been inundated, this represents a devastating loss.

Meanwhile, state government officials say their efforts to manually remove the mud are having a limited impact.

“We’ve been using a backhoe to remove the mud since February, but there’s only so much we can do. The irrigation canal is seven miles long, and we don’t have the budget to clear the whole thing,” said Zaw Moe Win, the person in charge of maintaining the dam’s sluice gates.

Paung Township has more than 130,000 acres of paddy fields. The most productive time of year for farmers is the rainy season.