FORCED PURCHASE OF RICE FROM FARMERS IN RAKHINE STATE
Sittwe, 14th January 02: The State Peace and Development Council junta of Myanmar have declared open market economy in the country since it seized state power in 1988 after a bloody crackdown on democracy movement killing thousands of peaceful demonstrators and imprisoning and torturing many thousands more. But as for the farmers in the country, they have never been able to fetch right price for their produce because of the forced purchase of rice by the government at prices arbitrarily kept low by the government.
According to a farmer in Rathedaung of Rakhine State, the junta have illogically fixed the amount of rice to sell to them at 750 kilos per acre, while the maximum yield of an acre of paddy field is 1600 kilos. The government price for 100 tinn (1 tinn = 30 kg) of rice is Kyat 30,000/- while in the open market the price is kyat 75,000/-, and in the deal a farmer is cheated of kyat 45,000/- for each 100 tinn.
If any farmer cannot 'sell' the government-set quota of rice due to poor harvest, the rice is exacted by force the farmer is not even allowed to keep rice for his own consumption. The farmers who failed to supply the quota of rice have also been forced to fill their 'quota' of rice by buying from others. The farmers so affected now face starvation in the coming year.
A manager in the government department of Agriculture on condition of anonymity told to our correspondent that, the junta sell one tinn of rice at US$1.80 to foreign countries including the importers in Bangaldesh. The present exchange rate of the
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