USDA grants loans to farmers

Jan 6, 2009 (DVB), The Union Solidarity and Development Association in Rangoon division is offering agricultural loans to local farmers for this year’s harvest, but some farmers claim the move is intended to secure votes in the 2010 election.

A farmer in Thonegwa said the local township USDA was going to provide farmers with loans under a different system to that used by the government’s agricultural bank.

For farmers with 1-5 acres of farmland, the USDA is giving loans of 8000 kyat per acre, while farmers with 5-10 acres farmlands can borrow up to 5000 kyat per acre up to a maximum of 50,000 kyat.

"At the moment, the USDA is offering loan agreements to farmers in 64 villages within Thonegwa township and they are offering a total of around 500 million kyat in loans. Some people have already signed up," the farmer said.

"A lot of people think they are providing loans as a way of getting our support in the 2010 elections," he said.

"We are worried they might pressure us to vote for them in the election because we have borrowed money from them."

Many farmers are in financial difficulties this year, particularly in areas affected by Cyclone Nargis, due to low yields and falling crop prices.

Farmers in some areas have said the loans provided by the government are not sufficient, and have been forced to take out loans with private lenders.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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