Myanmar is opening up to the West again after decades of isolation and embargoes. The former rice-bowl of the South East Asia has lost its leading position to Vietnam and Thailand, who are now the two largest exporters of rice.
How and when will Myanmar be able to recover and take back its position? Will they be able to do this in a sustainable way, or will they sacrifice the environment? We visited among others the Inle Lake district where the issue of agriculture and leaching of nutrients to the shallow lake is in focus.
Our observations confirmed the general concern of the NGOs who have assessed the situation. The implementation of more intensive cropping requires an improved knowledge and better practices in the field. The indiscriminate use of cheap urea fertilizer from China in the floating fields on the lake itself, must result in sever leaching of ammonia Nitrogen to the lake and a subsequent oxygen depletion, acidification and a disturbance of the nutrient balance. The slash and burn technique applied near the water line and in the hillsides around the lake also contributed to an extraordinary flow of surplus mineralized nutrients leaching to the lake. The Nitrogen is lost in the burn process. Aches are releasing a surplus of potash and phosphate as well as secondary nutrients.
The combination of organic fertilizer and cheap Urea is typical and at its economic optimum, giving a considerable loss of nutrient to the environment.
N2’s ambition is to introduce nitrates in combination with the organic fertilizers, manure and crop ashes, to facilitate a balanced and precise fertilization for the cash crop. The nitrates can also be used directly in the most polluted waterways and sewage to secure oxygen and reverse bad smell.