Over 40 farmers are facing difficulties in paying back government loans after seawater destroyed over 400 acres of paddy fields in Sar-Pyin Village in Pauk Taw Township, Arakan State.
The paddy fields were flooded with seawater for three days starting from 9th October 2014, the day after the Thadinkyut full moon.
U Aung Kyaw Sein a 66 year old farmer from Sar-Pyin Village said he had never seen such a thing in all his life.
He said: “I work 18 acres of paddy fields. There was high tidewater since the day after the Thadinkyut full moon and for the next two days salt water entered the paddy fields, so all the paddy fields in Sar-pyin have been destroyed by salt. I am 66 years old already and I have never seen anything like it. The colours of the paddy fields changed.”
He had a 600,000 kyats loan from the government to grow paddy and now he cannot pay it back. If he has to pay it back he will have to sell cattle to pay the debt. Currently, he has no rice for food or paddy seed to plant next season, he has also just paid half the workers wages.
Daw Sein thar Nu said it is very hard to earn a livelihood so her son has had to go to work in Thailand.
She said: “I work 15 acres. I cannot afford to pay the workers’ wages and my son who used to be in charge of the work in the fields has already gone to Thailand to work. I borrowed 500,000 kyats from the government. I cannot even sell cattle to pay for the workers’ wages as there is no one to buy them.
Farmers are attached to their family owned paddy fields, which is why subsequent generations want to continue working in those fields explained farmer Ko Maung Than Win.
He said: “Farmers are attached to their family owned paddy fields and they want to work as farmers too. I sold some of my wife’s gold and used it [the money] to start growing rice. Before harvest time the salt water entered the paddy fields. Everything is gone, even for the workers’ wages I had to sell cattle that we rely on and paid from that. All our savings have gone already.”
He also said that he has no rice for food or paddy seed to grow next season, so he has no way to pay back the government loan.
Though a list of the ruined paddy fields has been submitted to the township level authorities the villagers have not yet received a response. The villagers have been told that they will have to pay back the loans and no one has addressed the hardships they are facing.
Apart from Sar-Pyin village, nearby villages including Ngwe-Din-Dway, Hla Khine, Nga-Wat-Swe, Tha-Yat, and Scalechaung had paddy fields destroyed by sea water.
Translated by Aung Myat Soe English version written by Mark Inkey for BNI
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