Farmers sell livestock to repay loans

Jan 6, 2010 (DVB), Farmers in central Burma forced to repay loans months in advance of their deadline have reportedly been selling off livestock, following threats of arrest.

The debts stem from fertilizer bought on credit from local authorities in Magwe division. Authorities had reportedly given an eight-month deadline on repayment, but have demanded the money after four months.

The situation has been compounded by last year's poor crop harvest, with farmers failing to make any significant profit.

Furthermore, the fertilizer was forced on the farmers at an elevated price, one farmer from Myo Thit town in Magwe division said.

"The farmers didn't want to buy fertilizer [from the authorities] as they were selling it at 20,000 kyat ($US20) per barrel when the market price is 13,000 kyat ($US13)," he said.

He added that the local township chairman had ordered the arrest of seven farmers in Theebin village if they could not pay the money back by 7 January, and that famers were now being forced to sell their cows to repay their debt.

Meanwhile, farmers in Magwe's Yaynanchaung township said that local authorities were also forcing them to buy fertilizer at inflated prices, despite crops having already been planted.

"[Authorities here] are forcing farmers to buy out-of-date fertilizer after crop planting season," one farmer said. "They said our lands will no longer be ours if we don't buy."

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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