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Dec 16, 2008 (DVB), Authorities in Bago division’s Nyaunglebin district have been forcing farmers to grow sunflowers and threatening to confiscate lands of those who refuse to comply, according to locals.
Farmers were also forced to buy 2 pyi of sunflower seedlings per acre of land and those who refused were notified that their farms would be confiscated, a Nyaunglebin resident said.
"Six farmers from Taloke-kone village in Kyavandaing tract were notified by village chair U Htay that their lands would be confiscated because they did not buy sunflower seedlings," the resident said.
"He told them to come and negotiate."
The farmers were reluctant to grow the new crop because it would interfere with their other plants, the resident said.
"The bean sprouts are about five to six inches high now and the farmers said if they planted sunflowers now they would have problems," he said.
"But the officials told them they had to plant them as it is a ‘project’ crop."
The authorities have been forcing farmers to grow sunflowers for three years now, locals said, even though the crops have failed each year.
Some farmers believe that the project is related to the authorities' superstitious belief that the plants can ward off evil.
Reporting Naw Say Phaw