21 SEP 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times

Myanmar's monsoon rice crop has shrunk by nearly 810,000 hectares due to a lack of rain and irrigation water, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.

The ministry said 5.35 million hectares had been planted with monsoon rice this year, down from 6.12 million hectares in 2019.

U Myo Tint Tun, deputy permanent secretary of the ministry, said, "More rice will be grown but not much. Some farmers grow rice until September," he said.

Agricultural experts blamed the production decrease on less rain, the COVID-19 outbreak and lack of farm workers.

U Myo Tint Tun has suggested that farmers turn to planting new crops to mitigate the decline in production. "The climate has changed. We got less rain this year," he said. "Farmers should plant new crops that need less water."

Myanmar's Thapanseik dam, one of Asia's largest, has hit a new low-water level, the second in two years, due to a lack of rain, ministry officials said recently.

The dam, built in 2001, had 3889 acre-feet of water this year, far less than the 9000 acre-feet it had last year, the ministry said. An acre-foot equals about an eight-lane swimming pool, 25 metres long, 16m wide and 3m deep.

Last November, the dam stopped distributing irrigation water due to the low water level, and resumed in July when the rainy season started.

The dam is 108 feet high, 22,587 feet long and stores 2.79 billion acre-feet of water, which benefits about 1 million people in 10 townships in Sagaing Region.

The dam's water level fell for the first time in 20 years in 2019, revealing the ancient city of Ko Htet Nay Chi Thit. - Translated