Cylone Nargis Relief Update-Sept. 24th

The following is a field report from the team leader of a Yangon/Rangoon based cyclone relief team.  One of their missions (in addition to providing food, education support and medical care) is to implement a new method in the Delta region to mitigate ongoing rice shortage caused by the cyclone. 

 24th report-27 September 2008–“I found my time to return to Kyaung Zu today. Two of my friends were there last night staying over with the teacher they hired for the 10 grade kids in Taw Kyaung School. There are altogether 24 students from all villages around. They are provided with free tuition by my friends. One of the single-wheel tractor engines is joined with a dynamo for the power to provide lights for the students and the teacher. Free board and lodging are provided to 5 boys and 4 girls out of 24 students staying at our camp. I met my friends at Kungyangon andthey left for Yangon. I have helped shop some of the necessary stuff; with the expert farmer, his assistant and villagers.  Florescent lamp sets and wires were purchased for the students. Some of those are going to be installed at the new bamboo hut (the third one at the camp) some are for adding to the old building. The two buildings are to separate the boys and girls.

 The weed control has been going on since 13 September. Average 10 to 15 people are hired for the weeding, the spraying insecticide only where needed and the cleaning and clearing the wacked weed out of the plots. The two prior tasks are done by men and the latter by both  females and males. Then expert farmer and I went to collect a new intercultivator at the blacksmith. Five intercultivators were ordered and four of those are already being used since 13 September. The blacksmith finish making those one by one and gave us at different dates but there is one more ordered. The nice little machine (the interclutivator in photo 1 and 2) can be pushed between rows of rice plants to uproot the weed with the first little fan and the second one behind with four blades cut the weed. 

 After the visit to the blacksmith in Kungyangon the expert farmer requested me for purchasing some plastic containers to get Effective Micor-organisms (EM) for the rice fields from the agriculture department. (The funny fact is that nobody else but we know how to use it and there are two big barrels of those at the agricultural department.) The expert farmer and villagers went and collected those in newly bought plastic containers. 30 gallons of Concentrate EM (from which we can dilute into 10 times to get instant EM to spray on our plants) in 3 containers carried by a trishaw were brought to the landing place where our motor boat tied up.  On the way in we stopped by at two different areas of the two landowners for whom we have been taking full responsibility for introducing our SRI method. You will have to remember we have started the seedlings on 5 and 10 July. The kinds of rice plants we are growing are two different kinds of long-term rice called A-yar-min and Bay-gyar (135-150 days). 
We are now at the stage of tillering and we have an average of 25 to 30 tillers at one hill. Our plants are going to be 90 days old in the first week of October. Between 90 and 115 days is called (as I understand what I’m explained by expert farmer) panicle initiation stage just like the plant being pregnant for yield the skiplet or grain. The skiplet will come out and grow from 115 day onwards until
harvest. So the harvest will be after in the late November. After seeing the plots and the weed whackers we hired we continued to get to Kyaung-zu village in Taw Kyung village group where our camp is located. We had lunch at the camp with pickled tea leaf salad. After our lunch the school time was over and some students run into our camp library for hiring schools. Some 10th grade students picked up the newly arrived exam special guide books (brought by my friends) to pass to the others. As a result to our attempt to educated the students by planting some vegetations behind the school they had picked over two hundred corn the other day. Those were boiled at our camp and shared
among some 350 students half apiece. I was also given some 35 pieces of okra as gifts as they do to my other friends. The time I got back to the taxi stand was 4:15 p.m. and I could catch the last seat at the luggage compartment in the back of a regularly-run communal taxi. I had to lie down because the other two have already filled the space. The reason I cannot sit up straight the 45 degree slope of the
windshield of the station wagon. My backpack is my pillow and I bent my knees and keep those upward. Half way down I snoozed at the rhythm of the hood thudding of all loose nooks and crannies along the bumpy road. Not bad huh!” 


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