12 October 2021, Sittwe
Local farmers along the Lay Myo River in Arakan State say they can no longer buy fertiliser due to rising commodity prices and the volatile US dollar exchange rate.
A sack of Pearl brand fertiliser was K40,000 in previous years, but the price has since soared to K50,000-K60,000 due to rising commodity prices, according to farmers.
“Fertiliser prices have also risen because commodity prices have skyrocketed. I use only one type of Pearl fertiliser on my farm, not many other fertilisers. Other people are also unable to buy fertiliser because of rising prices,” said U Ba Chit, a farmer from Kon Chaung village.
Many residents along the Lay Myo River have to travel to Hsin Oh village by motorboat to buy fertiliser, spending about two gallons of fuel, and then rent a three-wheeled motorbike to go to Mrauk-U.
Previously, the fare from Hsin Oh village to Mrauk-U was only K2,000 per person, and an additional K1,000 per bag of fertiliser. Now the prices have soared to K3,000 per person and K2,000 per bag of fertiliser, with rising fuel prices blamed.
“This is likely to make life more difficult this year, as the income from the farm is not enough to feed the family, even with years of regular fertiliser application,” U Ba Chit added.
“Unlike paddy fields, this type of cultivation requires constant application of fertiliser,” he explained. “I have five acres of farmland, so once I sow, I’d [normally] use five bags of fertiliser. But for now, there is only one bag of fertiliser. It is not easy to buy the necessary fertilisers due to rising fuel prices and transportation charges. Even in years of regular fertiliser use, the income from the farm is not enough to feed my family. The farmers may face livelihood hardships this year.”
U Saw Thein, a farmer in Hsin Kel village, said his farm was ready to use fertiliser, but he could not afford to buy fertiliser due to the financial difficulties brought on by price rises.
“By this time last year, my farmlands had been fertilised. But this year, farmers are struggling financially due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fertiliser prices have risen so much that we cannot afford to buy it. As a result, fertilisers have not been used on my farmlands so far,” he told DMG.
Peanuts and pulses are mainly grown along the upper reaches of the Lay Myo River, with merchants coming from Sittwe to buy peanuts every year at harvest time, and other crops from nearby villages and visitors.