Authorities demand cheap rice from farmers

Jan 17, 2008 (DVB), Local authorities in Arakan state and Bago division are demanding cheap rice from farmers for military rations, despite the junta's claims they would no longer buy rice direct from farmers.

In Taunggok township, Arakan state, township authorities are buying 2 tin (about 8 litres) of rice per acre of farmland from farmers in four village groups in Ywa Ma province.

The current price of the rice at local markets is between 4800 and 5000 kyat for each tin, but officials are only paying 2800 kyats, claiming that the rice is for military rations, and farmers complain they are losing hundreds of thousands of kyat from the sales.

Locals have assumed that the authorities' demands are intended as punishment for their political activism and enthusiastic support of the September 2007 protests.

Farmers in the affected area are now collecting signatures for a petition and preparing to file a complaint against the township Peace and Development Council chief.

In Bago division, where the current market price for rice paddy is 385,000 kyat for 100 tin (about 400 litres), local officials are only paying 300,000 kyats.

The farmers are also expected to cover the cost of delivering and hulling the rice.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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