Farmers in eastern Shan State’s Kengtung Township are waiting for the rain to come to flood their fields before they can start seeding their paddy farms.
Hla Maung, a rice farmer from Wan Kein village in Loi Long-tract, told NMG last year they suffered from drought but this year the “situation is worse.” If he can’t grow his rice this year, Hla Maung says he won’t make enough money to feed his family or send his children to school.
Sai Tis, from Pa Oo Yang village, says all the communities in the area depend on agriculture for their livelihood and if it fails it has a huge impact on the wellbeing of many people. He says they can’t work on their farms until it rains. With wells and streams already dried up, there isn’t even enough water for drinking or for bathing.
Sai Khur Seng, who is working with Shan Natural Environmental Group, says deforestation and metal mines in Kengtung, Mong Hpyat and Mong Yawng townships have devastated the environment. “We will need time to replant the forest. But instead of replanting trees, more mega-projects have begun.”
In addition to the increase in mining, there are more rubber plantation farms, Sai Khur Seng says, and it’s causing a reduction in water in eastern Shan State. “People are growing rubber trees on thousands of acres and they absorb a lot of water.”
Residents want the government to assess the situation and come up with a solution to protect the environment.