Narinjara news

Advance Money for Rice  oh yes, for Exploitation too

Sittwe, 4 September 02:
The Burmese junta has started to distribute advance money for future “rice purchase” from rice farmers beginning the first week of last month, according to sources in the administration who declined to identify.

The advance money has been distributed across the seventeen townships of Rakhine State (Arakan) including Sittwe with a view to “rice purchase drives” usually conducted during the rice harvest season with the help of law enforcement agencies including the Burmese Army.  

For the coming 2002  2003 dry season when the collection drive will be conducted, the Burmese junta officials have set the target of the amount of rice to be collected at ten tinns (1 tinn = 2.5 baskets or 30kgs) for each acre of rice paddy.  The amount of money advanced is kyat 225 for each tinn, while the present price of the same in the market is kyat 1,300.  A target of a total of 7.3 million tinn of rice has been set for collection this year from Rakhine State.   The usual rice harvest for an acre of rice paddy is thirty tinns, a Muslim farmer in the area said, which accounts for the one third of the total production of rice forcefully “purchased” at deliberately reduced prices.  The export price of one hundred tinn of rice to Bangladesh stands at kyat 170,000  a seven and half-fold increase than the procurement price.

According to a farmer from Maungdaw Township, the advance money has been distributed beginning 12 August.  The local official who declined to identify told our correspondent that, a total of over kyat 8 million would be distributed among the rice growers in the township alone.

A rice farmer in the area told Narinjara that, though the money so received at the difficult months during the monsoons is badly needed, the amount of advance money from the Burmese junta, and the price fixed for the future harvest of rice that will be forcefully collected are both reminiscent of the practice of extortion by Indian Chettiya moneylenders during the British rule in Burma.  Even under Burmese Socialism of Ne Win the farmers were compelled to sale their rice harvest at throwaway prices to the state.

Rakhine State is the second largest rice growing state in Burma, but its farmers remain the most exploited and the poorest of all professionals due to the yearly “rip-off” campaign in the name of rice collection drives conducted since the military took over power in 1962, sources said.  #