Authorities sell farmers donated tractors

Jun 16, 2008 (DVB), Farmers in Latputta township, Irrawaddy division, went to collect hand tractors donated as part of the cyclone relief effort but found that local authorities were demanding payment before they could take them.

The farmers could face difficulties in the forthcoming rice cultivation season without relief supplies due to the loss of their animals and equipment in the cyclone.

A Latputta farmer told DVB recently that he and other farmers from the town went to the Township Agriculture Mechanization Department on Friday to collect tractors which they had been told would be provided free of charge.

But most of the farmers had to return home empty-handed because they were asked for a down payment of 200,000 to 500,000 kyat for a tractor.

"We were informed by Ward officials that the TAMD would help us by providing hand tractors so we all went to the Department," the farmer explained.

"When we got there we were told that we wouldn't be given the tractors free of charge and had to pay for them in installments," he said.

"The price of the tractors donated from other countries including Holland ranged from 1.09 million to 2.2 million kyat and the down payment was 200,000 to 500,000 kyat, depending on the type of tractor," he went on.

"Those who had money got them but two thirds of the farmers who went to the Department, myself included, had to go home as we didn't even have 10,000 kyat. We were very disappointed."

Most of the farmers in Irrawaddy Division lost the cows and buffalo they used for rice cultivation when the cyclone struck the region.

They are now looking for financial and material assistance to be able to work for this year's rice growing season.

DVB was told that so far none of the farmers in the Delta region had been provided with any financial loan or material assistance to help them get back to work.

"We can't do anything without help and have to leave our paddy fields like this," the farmer said.

"We are now completely dependent on aid distribution. If we are not given any food, we will starved," he said.

"It would be best if the authorities provided us with material assistance for our farms and financial loans so we could start working on our own."

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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