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. #