Narinjara News


RICE FOR FAMINE-HIT WESTERN BURMA

Ann, 6 October:  To meet the urgent demand of rice in western Burma, thousands of bags of rice are being transported from Burma proper everyday. 

The price of a bag of rice recorded sharp increase from kyat 7,000 to 14,500 in a month - a most unlikely thing to happen in a Burmese provincial state that produces surplus rice every year.

At Ann, at the foothills of the Roma Ranges, where there is Nasaka security checkpoint No. 25, on the Sittwe - Rangoon road, large convoys of rice-carrying trucks from Burma proper are seen to cross the gate everyday.

The present famine-like condition in Rakhine State, bordering with Bangladesh, has prompted the ruling State Peace and Development Junta to allow transportation of rice, cooking oil and other daily necessities by withdrawing a ban last month.  Till then though the rice from Rakhine State was taken to Burma in huge quantities, there was an effective ban on transportation of any food items from Burma proper, making the life of the ordinary Rakhine State people unbearable.

"We were expecting a famine to creep in since the ruling Burmese junta won't budge and allow items of food to come to our state, though they were taking away our items of food including rice in huge quantities," an official of a private company on condition of anonymity said, "this is pure exploitation.   The present famine is artificially created by the junta."

According to a shift-in-charge at the Ann Nasaka Gate 25, there were 7,540 bags of rice on thirty-four trucks heading for Sittwe from Rangoon on 12 September.  The following day it was 8,755 bags, weighing 437.75 tonnes, on 45 trucks.  Since then the number of trucks carrying rice have been growing.

"The junta has been compelled to allow transportation of rice into Rakhine State fearing a mass discontent resulting from the present rice crisis," a college professor said.

Last year there was looting of rice in Minbra Town in the month of August, also in Rakhine State.  Dozens of people were arrested on the occasion.  #