New Dagon authorities confiscate paddy fields

Jan 29, 2009 (DVB), Authorities in the port district of New Dagon township in Rangoon division have confiscated more than 6000 acres of paddy fields and driven farmers and animals from the land, according to local farmers.

The Rice Traders' Association and township authorities decided to confiscate the land at a meeting held at the end of last year, to which only ten farmers were invited.

One farmer who used to own 40 acres of land said farmers had nowhere to turn for help.

"We don’t know where to go to at the moment. At the meeting, the rice traders told us they would give us 40 percent of the profits and they would take 60 percent but we would share the expenses 50-50," the farmer explained.

"They won’t allow us to live on the land. Even when we were working on our own it was a struggle and now that they are taking 20 percent more than us, we are worse off," he said.

"I don’t want to be a farmer anymore, it is impossible."

Another farmer said the authorities had burnt haystacks, leaving the cattle with nothing to eat, and taken away the farmers' homes.

"As they seized them by force, we could do nothing," she said.

"We have to remove our lean-tos and hay stacks and we don’t know where we are going to live. We have been working on this land for thirty years."

The Rice Traders' Association and the township authorities could not be reached for comment.

The farmers are now preparing to report the matter to the International Labour Organisation and government authorities in Naypyidaw.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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