Ministry urges farmers to save water

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has urged farmers to use water more efficiently as there is less water behind the country’s more than 300 reservoirs and dams despite the current rainy season.

The monsoon, which started in late May, is due to end later this month.

As of Sunday, Thaphan Seik Dam, the biggest in Southeast Asia, had only 600,000 acre feet of water, compared to 2.25 million acre feet of water during the same period last year, or only 27 percent of the previous year.

“It is hard to distribute enough water for summer rice. Some dams have to prioritise drinking water,” said U Myo Tint Tun, deputy permanent secretary of the ministry. “So farmers need to save water in order to minimise, if not prevent, a water shortage.”

U Win Hlaing Oo, head of the Agriculture Department in Sagaing Region, said that to conserve water his office will plant less rice in the summer in favour of crops that use less water.

“After we supply water for monsoon rice, we will reduce the cultivating area of summer rice,” he said. “Instead, we will grow crops like mung beans and sesame, which need less water.”

The large dams in the dry zone of central Myanmar, which includes Sagaing, Mandalay and Magwe regions, are low on water, agriculture officials said.

Although Kintar Dam in Mandalay had over 450,000 acre feet of water at this time last year, it had only 300,000 acre feet as of Sunday. Salin Dam in Magwe is also low.

“Only if we get more rainfall will water flow into the dams. The dams are low because there has been less rainfall,” U Myo Tint Tun said. “And there is little chance of more storms because the monsoon is nearly over.”

The big dams in Bago Region – Khabaung, Yenwe and Taung Nawin – are low, as are other big dams such as Zaw Gyi in southern Shan State, and Paung Laung in Nay Pyi Taw.

About 1.5 million acres of summer and monsoon rice are grown in Myanmar every year.

Source: Myanmar Times

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