August 19, 2016

Sagaing farmers lack interest in cultivating chemical-free betel

Betal plantation is seen in Sagaing. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency
Betal plantation is seen in Sagaing. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency

Farmers from Sagaing Region’s Shwebo district have voiced a lack of interest in cultivating betel plants using natural products in lieu of chemicals, despite the absence of dangers to the health of both consumers and growers.
Betel plants are grown annually between April-August and take four months before the leaves are ready to be picked for sale, while cultivation of the plants with chemicals reportedly incurs thirty percent more expense than through using natural methods.
“We tend to the needs of the plants with natural products. The plants are sprayed with an organic spray. The plants are grown with a fertilizer of pickled fruits and vegetables we’ve sourced from our environment. As such, we only incur expenses for palm sugar.
Farmers rely on the use of chemicals because they lack self-confidence, it’s what their used to,” said Maung Maung Soe, a betel grower from Khin-U Township who utilizes a natural approach to cultivation.
An entire plot of 500 betel plants can reportedly be cultivated naturally with a liquid mixture of milk and pickled juice, which contains lactic acid, for as little as K700.
“The downside of chemical sprays is that they’re more expensive. They also pose health concerns, forcing the health conscious farmers to don face masks and gloves when tending to their crops.
For those farmers with money, chemicals are readily available and they speed up the cultivation process; one needn’t spend the time concocting natural fertilizers or pesticide sprays.
The lack of interest in cultivating organically steams from the absence of a market for such products,” said Naing Win Aung, a betel plant farmer from Myinmu Township.
A natural method of cultivating betel plants first sprouted up in Sagaing Region back in 2013, but farmers employing such a method from Myinmu, Chaung-U and Ayardaw Townships are still very much the minority, accounting for a meager one percent of betel growers.—Myitmakha News Agency


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