With the price of tomatoes dropping during COVID-19 lockdowns, farmers on the north end of Inle Lake are finding the sales from their produce not enough to cover their business costs.
Win Naing, a tomato farmer, told SHAN he’s having trouble paying his workers, and what he owes for fertilizer and equipment rentals.
Transporting the tomatoes after the harvest poises additional challenge for farmers during the lockdown. It’s difficult to find a driver and truck, and the ones that are available are prohibitively expensive.
With the Chinese border closed in Muse and restrictions at the Thai border crossings, fruit and vegetables farmers all over Shan State are struggling to stay afloat during these difficult times.
Last week, farmers in Namkham township couldn’t export their corn to China after the border closed, and they were forced to throw their spoiled produce into the river.
Sai Than Myint told SHAN that farmers threw away 20 truckloads of corn into the river. “We waited 5 nights to sell our corn in China but when we couldn’t cross the border it rotted or dried up, and we had to throw it in the Ruili River or to the roadside,” the farmer said.
Sai Sai, another farmer that threw away his corn because of the border closure, said farmers lost a lot of money.
Sai Than Myint said the government needs to find a solution to this problem. Many of the farmers are in debt because of the border closure.
Translated by Sai Seng Han