Mon State’s Salt Farmers Report Difficulties During COVID-19 Period

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Salt farmers in Mon State say that they are struggling to continue operations due to the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is no selling or buying in the salt market at the moment. The fish paste business is still operating. Many salt bags are stored in warehouses,” Kyaw Thu, who has 20 acres of salt fields in Thanbyuzayat Township, told NMG, adding, “Everybody is facing difficulties,”

Salt farmers in the Pa Nga area where Kyaw Thu lives said that the price of salt has gone down with the demand: it was 200 kyat per viss (1.6 kilograms) last year, and it is currently 70 kyat per viss.

Salt farmers start production in mid-September at the end of the rainy season, filling their salt fields with seawater until early November. The water evaporates under the sun, and the salt remains.

Salt farmer Aung, who also works in Pa Nga, said that he is hoping the government will lift travel restrictions so salt can be distributed again, and so farmers can hire laborers from other regions who typically travel to Mon State in search of work.

“If travel restrictions are lifted, the salt market will be active again. If not, it will be difficult for all of us. Now new salt is coming soon. We have to store our old salt in warehouses,” he explained.

The salt farmers had expected to get COVID-19 relief funds from the government. Even loans, they said, would help them in their production.

“The salt production business association has applied for COVID-19 relief funds. A total of 56 farmers are approved to borrow COVID-19 relief funds. But they have yet to get a permission letter to receive the money,” Win Htein, who is president of the association in Mon State, told NMG.

Salt from Mon State is mainly sent to Mandalay and Tanintharyi regions.

Salt is mainly produced in four areas of Thanbyuzayat Township, and parts of Paung and Ye townships.