Bringing Smiles back to Shwebo FarmersOct 18, 2016
U Aung Myint is excited about the possibility of doubling his rice production, thanks to additional water being provided by a new irrigation system.
The 55 year old farmer from Nyaung Yin Gone in Shwebo township in Sagaing Region grows the “Shwebo Paw San” variety of rice, revered for its sweet fragrance, nutritional benefits and great taste. Endemic to Shwebo, the rice variety is grown for the local and export markets.
“In 2015, I was able to produce 50 baskets or approximately 1045 kilograms of rice. With the additional water from Kin Tat canal, I will be able to produce approximately 120 baskets of rice. I am very happy that UNDP and the Government are making this possible for me,” said U Aung Myint who owns 20 acres of paddy land and currently grows one rice crop per year.
Shwebo is located on the plains between the Mu River and the Ayeyarwady River. It lies near the site of the ancient Pyu city-state of Hanlin. In the mid 18th century, a moat was built around Shwebo to resist an upcoming invasion from Hanthawaddy forces. Over the following eight years, the Kin Tat Canal was built to provide irrigation water for agriculture to Shwebo township. It passes through Khin Oo township before draining into Maharnandar Lake I and II. The last time the Irrigation Department renovated the Kin Tat irrigation system was in 1994-95.
The current renovation of the diversion canal along the Kin Tat irrigation system is being undertaken as part of a joint Adaptation Fund, Government of the Union of Myanmar and United Nations Development Programme project - Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar.
Once complete, the renovation will result in a win-win situation. The canal will divert excess water from the Kin Tat irrigation canal to the Tet Kel Tan creek which flows towards eastern Shwebo. It will not only reduce waterlogging in rice fields in the western part of Shwebo but also benefit 488 households in 10 villages in eastern Shwebo covering an agricultural area of 2,853 acres.
Water from the Kin Tat Irrigation system also feeds the Maharnandar lake system which serves as the main source of drinking water for the city of Shwebo. The diversion canal will result in reduced contamination of Mahanandar Lake I by diverting the excess water coming in from the Kin Tat irrigation system, which during the rainy season brings a lot of silt and dirt that enters into Mahanandar Lake I. After the construction of the diversion canal, most of the contaminated water will be diverted directly to Lake II, which eventually drains into Tet Kel Tan creek. This will provide clean drinking water supply for 10,944 households or 56,152 residents.
U Kan Tan, 56, of Thi Kong village near Shwebo city is one of the several farmers that will benefit from the canal renovation. He owns 11 acres of land at the mouth of the canal and since 1995, he has not been able to cultivate his land due to excessive water logging in his field. The renovation of the scheme will mean that he can reclaim the land and cultivate rice. U Kan Tan plans to grow Shwebo Paw San.
“I plan to invest the additional income I earn in the education of my children and donate some to my community,” said U Kan Tan.
The Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar project aims to reduce vulnerability and increase adaptive capacity of the dry zone communities through improved water management, crop and livestock adaptation programme in five of the most vulnerable townships of Myanmar’s Dry Zone. The project is expected to reduce food insecurity and losses from extreme climate events in 50,326 households.