In Myanmar, rice is primarily grown in three regions: the Irrawaddy Delta, the Kaladan River delta, and the Central Plains around Mandalay. However, rice farming has increased in Shan State and Kachin State in recent years. Myanmar was the primary exporter of rice up until the latter part of the 1960s.
Although it is referred to as the “organic” rice basket of Southeast Asia, much of the rice grown there does not use fertilizers or pesticides. As a result, even though it is considered to be “organic,” it has not been able to keep up with population growth or other rice economies that used fertilizers.
Nowadays, rice is grown throughout Myanmar’s three seasons, but primarily during the Monsoon season, which lasts from June to October. While the Irrawaddy River is required for irrigation in the central regions, rice grown in the delta relies heavily on river water and sedimentary minerals from the northern mountains.
When the first rains arrive around the beginning of June, which is typically 40 days after Thingyan, the Burmese New Year, the fields are tilled. Tractors are used now, but buffalos have always been used in the past. After being grown in nurseries, the rice plants are hand-transplanted into the prepared fields. After that, the rice is harvested at the end of November, “when the rice bends with age.” The majority of rice cultivation and harvesting is carried out by hand. After that, the rice is threshed, stored, and prepared for the mills.