Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Army Prohibits Transport of Paddy in Arakan

1/25/2010

Sittwe: The Burmese army has prohibited the transport of rice in Arakan State in order to suppress market rates and get reduced purchase prices for army rations, said one farmer.

"We have not been able to transport rice from village to village nor from one township to another because the army authority does not allow us to transport rice from one place to another in order to control the paddy price in our state," he said.

The authority has been buying rice since 1 January, 2010, in ten townships of Arakan for army rations, what local people know as "Tamadaw Rikka". After the purchasing began, the army authority prohibited the transportation of rice from one place to another.

The Burmese army is now buying paddy from the following townships: Buthidaung, Rathidaung, Ponna Kyunt, Kyauk Taw, Mrauk U, Min Bya, Pauk Taw, Ann, Kyauk Pru, and Taungup.

"Now the rice price is falling day by day after the prohibition because there are no private rice merchants besides the Burmese army who are buying rice from Arakanese farmers. Many rice merchants stopped buying rice from rural areas because there is no permission for transporting the rice," the farmer said.

The price of 100 baskets of paddy in Arakan State is now between 90,000 and 100,000 kyats, but in the past was 120,000 kyats.

A farmer from Rathidaung Township said, on the condition of anonymity, "In our township, there was not any official prohibition to transport rice, but the army authority set up many outposts along the Mayu River and other river passes to block rice transports from other parts of Arakan to Buthidaung through Rathidaung Township."

Buthidaung Township is located in northern Arakan State close to Bangladesh, where the price of rice is always high due to the high population and demand. At least five army outposts from Light Infantry Battalions 536, 537, and 538 have been opened in the area to block rice transports.

"The rice merchants can transport rice in our township despite the many army outposts, but they have to give bribes to the officers there. Without bribes to the army, they are unable to transport rice. As the amount of the bribes to the army is very high, the merchants gave up their involvement in the business of rice because there were no profits," the farmer said.

The Burmese military junta has announced that the state has been operating with an open market economy since they came to power in 1988, but Arakanese farmers have been denied the right to sell their rice freely in Arakan State. Because of this, farmers in Arakan State have been kept in poverty for decades.

Ref: Narinjara

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