Increased cultivation on the Shan-Kayah border
Junta authorities cannot be faulted for their efforts to whitewash themselves when it comes to drugs, but impoverished people are turning more and more to poppy cultivation along the Shan-Kayah border areas, says Karenni Anti-Drug Action Committee (KADAC), an independent fact-finding group based on the Maehongson-Kayah border.
27 June 2008
Preparations for the 2008-09 poppy season have started in vigor. All townships on the borderland: Pekhon (Faikhun), Hsihseng and Mawkmai on the Shan side and Dimawso, Loikaw and Shadaw on the Kayah (Karenni) side are seeing more poppy fields, even more than the last season.
KADAC statement which came out yesterday says it has counted at least 3,800 acres of poppy fields compared to 3,500 acres last year.
The reasons for increased cultivation have been cited as:
- Continued forced relocations
- Forced labor especially to grow and tend the fuel Jatropha fields
- Various taxations by junta officials
- Upsurge in commodity prices
“We also grow other crops too,” a farmer was quoted as saying. “But our expenses and the market prices do not match. They also don’t guarantee sufficiency for the whole year.”
Poppy farmers however complain about low opium prices due to greater availability. “Last year, 1 viss (3.6kg) fetched K450,000 ($375),” said the report. “But early this year, it dropped to K400,000 ($333). Now it is K430,000 ($358).”
Japhet Kya-kwee, Secretary of the Lahu National Development Organization (LNDO), commented that opium prices vary in proportion to proximity to a refinery. “For instance, in Wanzing, Kehsi township (where the pro-Burma army Lahu militia led by Yosay is located), prices are as much as B27,000-30,000 ($805-895), which is a clear indicator of heroin refineries in the vicinity.”
Meanwhile, Maj Gen Maung Oo, home minister and head of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC), claimed that the junta’s drug eradication has effectively brought down cultivation of poppy in Burma, reported Mizzima News.