Farmers in Ayadaw, Sagaing Division, said that authorities have unfairly disbursed agricultural stipends after insects ravaged the paddies of around 160 people.
They claim the Department of Agriculture pledged to pay farmers 46,500 kyat (US$46.50) for each acre destroyed in Nayarkhin village, though locals have reported that only those who are close with officials have received payments.
The Ayadaw representative of the National League for Democracy, Khin Maung Thin, met with farmers after they appealed to him for assistance.
Speaking to the press, Khin Maung Thin said, “It is evident that the officials are biased in distributing the stipend and not following regulations. They handed out large sums of money to those who are close to them — even though they only had a few acres damaged by bugs — while giving only a little to those who suffered more damage.”
A local farmer who did not receive compensation told DVB: “About 150 to 160 farmers were affected, but 123 of us didn’t get the stipend.” He added that those who were compensated received much less than they were allocated. He also said that those who did not receive the stipend were warned not to complain.
The Agriculture Development Bank, tasked with providing the stipend, deflected the accusations. Tin Sein, the bank’s manager, told DVB that they had a list of damages and dispensed the funds to local authorities accordingly.
“Distribution was carried out by local officials, who personally handed out the money in the villages,” he said.
Ayadaw’s agriculture administrator, Ba Htay, said the government only supplied funds for some 1,569 acres* of paddy fields – much less than the area affected by the infestation – and so some farmers had to be prioritised over others.
Those whose crops were damaged by the insects are now worried that they will be unable to repay the season’s agricultural loans without the stipend.
* Editor’s note: The original version of this article said the government supplied funds for just 569 acres of paddy fields. We apologise for this error.