Junta bans slash and burn farming near Naypyidaw

Feb 26, 2008 (DVB), The Burmese government's Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation has imposed a ban on slash and burn agriculture in ethnic Kayan villages near the new capital Naypyidaw.

Farmers from the Bow Ma and Tae Su village groups, which are located about 20 miles from Naypyidaw and consist of about 40 small villages populated by ethnic Kayan people, have been making their living through slash and burn farming for generations.

A resident farmer from one of the villages said the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation recently made an announcement banning slash and burn agriculture in the area from the start of February.

"We have been hearing rumours about it since the middle of 2007," said the farmer.

"In first week of 2008, they issued orders through our village leaders about restrictions on slash and burn farming because of the government's plan to save the environment," he said.

"The order came directly from Naypyidaw. They said anyone who violates the ban will be punished by law."

The restriction zone covers about 100 acres of the villagers' lands, and means they will face a struggle to maintain their livelihoods.

A local Kayan woman said the locals are now planning to move to Karen, Karenni (Kayah) or Shan states where slash and burn farming is still allowed by the government.

"This is not fair to us. We are very angry and saddened by the government’s decision," she said.

"Now we are going to move somewhere else where we can do our work."

The Myanma Agricultural Department in Naypyidaw was unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Htet Yazar

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