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Bitter aftertaste for sugarcane farmers in Naypyidaw

Sugarcane farmers in Naypyidaw’s Lewe Township say they face substantial losses in a local venture with a military-owned sugar refinery that is losing business and cancelling orders with them.

The farmers say that sugar refinery firm Taung Sin Aye, a subsidiary of Myanmar Economic Corporation, has been processing about 33 percent less sugarcane than usual due to outdated machinery, and has subsequently cancelled orders for sugarcane from the local farmers.

“The refinery previously ordered 1,200 tons from us, but now they are cancelling orders,” said a local sugarcane farmer who added that not only are sugarcane farmers affected but also truck drivers.

“Now there is a long line of trucks queuing up outside the factory,” the farmer said. “Meanwhile our sugarcane is drying up under the sun.”

A delivery truck driver told DVB that not only was he not making any money because of a lack of orders, but he still had to pay the truck rental fees and buy fuel.

“I have been waiting outside the refinery since this morning,” he said, “but some drivers have been queuing up all night.”

It cost farmers around 450,000 to 500,000 kyat (US$450- $500) to cultivate an acre of sugarcane with an approximate yield of 30 tons. In addition, farmers must pay commission to landowners.

There are around 5,000 sugarcane farmers working in the venture with the Taung Sin Aye refinery in Lewe, which was not available for comment on the matter.

Myanmar Economic Corporation is one of two major conglomerates and holding companies that provides the Burmese military with access to materials such as rubber and cement. Its dealings are notoriously shrouded in secrecy and the firm remains on the US blacklist of sanctioned companies.



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