Day labour shortage slashes profits for Kamarwat rice farmers

July 24, 2015

Rice farmers in Kamawat Sub-Township, located in Mon State’s Mudon Township, have reported acute shortages of day labour. Farmers explained how, in order to cope with labour shortages, they have been forced to introduce detrimental changes to their farming methods, causing a sharp decline in profits.  

Nai Nay Win, a farmer from Kalaw-Taw Village in Kamawat Sub-Township, described how the availability of day workers has declined in recent years, in particular amongst local Mon populations. According to Nai Nay Win, nowadays only villagers with serious livelihood difficulties will accept work as day labourers. He explained that, while in the past many Burmans from Bago and Rangoon came to Mon State during the rainy season to seek work as day labourers, today few do so. Instead, workers have sought more reliable work elsewhere.

While new work opportunities have arisen in other areas, the wage for day labourers has not increased in recent years; a male worker still earns 5,000 Kyat per day, while a female worker earns 4,000 Kyat.

According to local rice plantation owners, Kamawat’s labour shortages have had serious effects. Reportedly, farmers have been forced to plant rice on only part of their plantations, leaving acres of land unused. Farmers have also introduced less labour-intensive farming techniques, which have reduced productivity. For example, farmers have begun to use mass planting, rather than the traditional practice of planting each rice seed individually. This method, while less labour-intensive, has the drawback of producing a lower volume of rice per acre.

Nai Nay Win described the livelihood difficulties he has faced due to labour shortages in Kamarwat Sub-Township. He explained, “Currently, I am only farming on about 10 acres of my plantation. In the past, I planted rice on all of my land.  This year I had to plant half of the rice myself and hire workers for the other half. After deducting all costs, I’m just left with 100 tonnes of rice. Rice farming doesn’t pay good enough money. We have to work for a long time during the year. This is why some farmers just leave their land and go to work in Thailand. Some farmers no longer want to farm and have handed their land over to others”.



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