How sand mining puts Southeast Asia’s farmers at risk

“This land was mine, it eroded slowly from the riverbank and after a while, the whole chunk of land totally collapsed,” Than Zaw Oo, a farmer on the Salween River in southeastern Myanmar’s Mon State, told Reuters recently. He said he’s lost three-quarters of his land to erosion and is now a few thousand dollars in debt from paying for embankments to try to preserve his farm.

As COVID-19 shakes economies and lockdowns leave many without income, the pandemic raises questions about the security of our food supply. Agriculture in Southeast Asia is so far stable, though the region’s farmers were already struggling with significant challenges from drought and climate change before the pandemic hit.

But farmers are now also seeing impacts from sand mining, a sprawling industry fueled by demand for concrete and glass for cities and infrastructure projects.

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