Sagaing works to conserve Tha Phan Seik Dam water

Picture A farmer ploughs his field. Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times

02 Dec 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - The Sagaing Regional government has set up conservation measures due to the low water level in Tha Phan Seik Dam, the biggest in Southeast Asia, to irrigate farms during the dry season, a senior regional agricultural official said Sunday.

U Win Hlaing Oo, head of the Sagaing Agriculture Department, said they would adopt a four-point strategy to prevent a water shortage, as the reservoir received less water during this year's monsoon.

"We'll get income from growing three major crops, and will provide more nutrients to the soil by growing green manure," he said.

The dam, which provides water to more than 364,000 hectacres of monsoon and summer crops, got less water this year, increasing by just 27 percent from the previous year. 

"Summer rice fields total more than 290,000 acres [117,000 hectares]. It totally relies on dam water, so all of these acres cannot be cultivated," said U Win Hlaing Oo. "If about 300,000 acres of summer rice cannot be cultivated, it can affect the country's GDP and the income of farmers, so the department will change the crop pattern."

He said that farmers whose rice fields cannot be supplied with enough water would be encouraged to plant summer sesame, mung beans, chick peas, and other crops that require less water.

"The chick peas and mung beans will be grown in a relay cropping system," U Win Hlaing Oo said. "When water is supplied for mature rice, chick peas or mung beans are scattered in the field to make them grow with the moist soil."

The department will also fix wells and explore other sites for new wells in the fields.

They will also plant sunn hemp, which is a legume that helps rebuild the fertility of the soil.

"By changing crop rotation in the irrigated area, pest problems would be minimised," U Win Hlaing Oo said. "It would be like cutting off the life cycle of the pests, the crops would be protected, and farmers will make more money." – Translated

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