Wa agri import blocked
Wa agri import blocked
Import of oranges and tangerines from the Wa controlled areas across the border, as agreed by Thailand's northern gate-keeper the Third Army late last year, has been stalled due to dissenting voices from several sectors of the Thai society, according to border security sources.
The strongest opposition, to no one's surprise, came from owners of the orange and tangerine plantations in the northern provinces, who were concerned about the likely adverse impact on the prices brought by the products from the Wa. "The Food and Drug Administration officials also expressed concern about the leftovers from chemical substances used extensively by the Wa," said an officer from the Chiangmai's Fang district.
The third concern, as voiced by the anti-narcotics officials, was that drugs would be hidden among imported agricultural produce.
Courtesy: Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post reported on 15 December that Lt-Gen Picharnmeth Muangmanee, Commander of the Third Army, had agreed to allow the import of farm products from the Wa so to encourage them to stop producing and trafficking in drugs. The Wa, under Wei Hsuehkang's supervision, have reportedly also been growing longans, mangoes and tea, although unconfirmed reports also accuse them of planting coca, from where cocaine is extracted, among the tea plants.
Later on 26 December, during the inauguration of the Yawngkha hospital in Monghsat township, opposite Chiangrai, Bao Youxiang, supreme leader of the Wa, officially thanked Thailand for allowing the export of the farm output through the Kiu Hpawawk checkpoint, better known as Boundary Post #1, between Burma's Mongton and Chiangmai's Chiangdao.
"The unexpected turndown from Thailand caused a big letdown among the Wa," said a local Shan, who reported that, according to a Wa officer, Wei had already suspended the orange project in Tangyan, northern Shan State, where he received a 2,000 acre land grant from Rangoon more than two years ago.
Ever conscious of his security, Wei, who is wanted both in Thailand and the United States, has been cultivating his relationship with the local militia and ceasefire groups, especially with Col Pangfah, Commander of the Shan State Army "North"'s First Brigade, said the sources.