Farmers struggle to repay loans

Dec 30, 2008 (DVB), Many Burmese farmers are facing difficulties repaying agricultural loans which they took out at the onset of monsoon due to the drop in rice prices and low yields.

A farmer from Bago said the state agricultural loans were not sufficient so farmers had also borrowed from private lenders.

"As we have to grow rice willy-nilly, we had to borrow money with interest from outside. It’s hard to get interest-free loans every year," he said.

"The mistrust of the lenders is part of the problem. The government loans are not enough but farmers have to plant the full quota."

The farmer said an acre of paddy field which would usually produce 70 tin of rice is now only yielding 50 tin.

A Bogalay farmer said the authorities reduced the state agricultural loans from 10,000 to 8000 kyat an acre this year and also demanded money from farmers on various pretexts including as donations to help victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Rice production and prices have been down this year, with farmers in cyclone-hit areas particularly badly affected.

In several instances, equipment and supplies donated to help the farmers have been taken by local authorities or sold to the farmers for profit.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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