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Cyclone-hit farmers battle snails

Farmers report a larger number of snails this year in the wake of Nargis

MYANMAR -
An unidentified freshwater snail has left scores of paddy farmers in southern Myanmar reeling. In the wake of Cyclone Nargis - which left nearly 140,000 people dead or missing in May - farmers cite an increase in the invasive species. Experts believe the snails were washed up by the sea’s tidal surge when it submerged more than 783,000ha of rice paddy fields or 63 percent of paddy land in the affected areas. The snails devastate rice fields by feeding on the base of paddy seedlings, as well as on plant leaves and stems and are capable of consuming the young plants overnight. Lacking government or international assistance to deal with the menace, many farmers resorted to pesticide, only to have it kill everything else at the same time, including fish. "We don't know the name of it or its active ingredients, but it really kills the crabs though it cannot kill the snails."

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