Tuesday, 24 June 2008

More woes in Myanmar: Oxen won't plow

DEDAYE, Myanmar: Rice farmers in cyclone-shattered parts of the Irrawaddy Delta have come up against yet another problem as they try to rebound from the storm - donated oxen and water buffaloes are refusing to work because they are stressed, and planting must be done soon to take advantage of the next crop cycle.
"Thanks to donors and arrangements by the government, we are getting buffaloes and oxen, and in some cases small tractors and tillers, almost free of charge," said Ko Hla Soe, a farmer in Dedaye, 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, southwest of the city of Yangon.
"Now, to our surprise, the problem is that most of the buffaloes and oxen will not work hard. They cannot immediately be used effectively."
Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar on the night of May 2, killed around 200,000 farm animals, 120,000 of which were used by farmers to plow fields in the delta, the country's fertile and economically vital rice-growing area.
The military government and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization have said that replacing the draft animals is an urgent priority in the devastated areas.

Unfortunately for the farmers, who mostly prefer buffaloes to mechanical tillers due to a lack of fuel and its cost, time is not on their side.
"Unless our rice is planted by the end of this month, it will be too late," Soe said. "And even if we get it in on time, we cannot expect as big a crop as before."
The few animals that survived the storm were traumatized and reluctant to work, delta farmers say, and those brought in as replacements are taking a long time to settle in to their new surroundings.
"Animals can get stress too," said Ohn Kyaw, a senior official at the Ministry of Livestock Breeding and Fisheries.
"The change of owners and environment is having a psychological impact on them. They've had to travel for days by sea or by land, and they are bound to suffer from stress," he said, adding that the animals should be able to rebound soon.
The government, he said, had provided 1,971 draft animals and was working on distributing an additional 600 donated by the FAO.

No comments: