Save our toddy palm trees

Perspectives

Toddy palm trees are a symbol of rural life in Myanmar, especially in Upper Myanmar.
The trees are cultivated widely in Upper Myanmar, and their fruits, fronds, branches, stems and roots are useful economically.
Today, the trees are cut and sold as an easy means to make money by the rural people, triggering the problem of deforestation in Myanmar.
If we do nothing to prevent it, our country’s palm trees, which grow gracefully in groups in our tropical zones, will get extinct and the zones will become deserts.
According to a recent UN report, Myanmar loses an average of some 546,000 hectares of forest land each year, the third-worst deforestation rate in the world after Brazil and Indonesia.
Toddy palm climbers have become fewer, because they cannot earn enough from the traditional business.
Meanwhile, the new generation is leaving the toddy farming business and looking for steady-income jobs in foreign countries. Increasing numbers of youths going overseas have also led to the shortage of workers in these areas.
Toddy palm wood is used in restaurants, tea shops and hotels and also in village houses to erect posts, beams and bars as a substitute for other hard wood and bamboo. Even 70-year-old palm trees are felled for this purpose.
We should find ways to improve the lives of rural folk so that we can save palm trees. Palm trees have a lifespan of 150 to 200 years, with their average height being 60 to 80 feet.
The tree stumps are used to make stools and the trunks for building bridges and houses.
Furthermore, toddy fronds are utilized for roofing and fencing, while their branches are used to make chairs.
In an age of modernization, toddy palm trees are used in restaurants and tea shops to attract consumers to country cottages.
Palm trees were used widely in rural areas by those who could not afford expensive wood. However, preventing the cutting of these trees is necessary to stop deforestation in Upper Myanmar and maintain the ecological balance of the whole area.
The sap from toddy palm trees is used to produce jaggery, which can be used to make alcohol through distillation. From roots to leaves, nothing is wasted. The toddy business has huge potential.
It is time we take our palm trees to the international market .

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