Narinjara News

Black pepper cultivation

Sittwe, 4st August 03: 
The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) junta of Burma has taken up a long-term extensive black pepper cultivation plan in the western Burmese state of Rakhine.

Under the plan the junta has confiscated villagers’ land near the more than sixty battalion headquarters stationed across the state.  Sources in the administration said that at Buthidaung Township, close to the Bangladesh-Burma border in the northern part of Rakhine State, the junta has confiscated hundreds of acres of villagers’ land for the cultivation of black pepper.

In Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, the local junta leaders and officials have been collecting kyat 750 from each household as price for the black pepper seedlings they will distribute.  Directions have also been issued to every household to cultivate black pepper  non-compliance of which would entail heavy fine and punishment.  The nature of punishment is not clear whatsoever.

Since black pepper requires heavy rainfall and high humidity Rakhine State offers an ideal environment for good growth of the plant.  The junta has also issued orders to ‘produce one tonne of black pepper from each acre of land’, without making any distinction between   poor and rich lands.  A townsman told our correspondent that the order to cultivate black pepper is another trick to squeeze money from the people as the junta can no more squeeze the farmers.

On the face of wide criticism and riots resulting from the forced purchase of rice the Burmese junta changed its old rice procurement policy.  #