The Big-Shot Contractor destroyed the salt industry in Arakan
Maung Daw, March 9: Since the local authority made a tender for the contract of the rights to produce salt in Maung Daw township, the local salt farmers are in danger of losing their livelihoods.
During the 2004 salt season, the Burmese Border Security (Na Sa Ka) tendered for the Nga Khu Ra Salt farms. The farms were sold to “Pig” Than Shwe from Sittwe who is close to the Na Sa Ka commander, for 300,000 kyat. Than Shwe resells the rights to produce salt and lease out the plot at such a high price to get by the farmer.
A local salt farmer said, “We only used to produce salt for the local use, within Arakan state. There wasn’t any international market. Only under the junta, the salt market has expanded. It is because our neighboring countries are buying it. Now, the junta is marking some fields for salt production and sells them to the highest bidder who has connections and cash. Currently, Ko Than Shwe is selling them back to us at an unreasonably high price. We would not be able to attain it at all.”
Though it is the salt producing season, since most farmers could not afford to get the right and the land, they are not able to work in salt farming.
The local junta officials sold not only the salt fields and the right to farm it, they also sold rivers and creeks for fishing, markets, boat ports and the right to trade vegetables and fruit to big business owners.#