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Irrawaddy salt production continues to slide

Salt farmers work fields in Laputta. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Refined salt production in the Irrawaddy delta has been in decline since the area was devastated by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, said an official at Myanmar Salt Enterprise.

Statistics compiled by the government body show that there were 803 farmers working over 121,406 square metres (30,000 acres) of salt fields in the region in the first production season after the disaster. In the 2014-15 fiscal year, however, only 233 farmers sought permits for salt production and worked just over 10,000 acres.

A local salt farmer who spoke to DVB said the main factors contributing to the industry’s decline include unstable market prices and high investment fees that drive many to switch careers.

The Irrawaddy delta is home to Burma’s largest salt fields, which used to sprawl over the townships of Laputta, Ngapudaw, Dedaye and Bogale until Cyclone Nargis destroyed massive swaths of land.

The Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) conducted in the wake of the disaster reported that more than 97.12 square kilometres (23,999 acres) – 80 percent of delta salt fields – were affected. The area comprised roughly 35,000 farms, threatening the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.