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Oct 20, 2008 (DVB), Cotton farmers in Magwe’s Aung Lan township said they have been forced by a local military officer to grow sugar cane, even though the land is not suitable for the crop.
A local farmer said troops had been deployed to ensure farmers were obeying the order.
"Lieutenant-colonel Zaw Win from the government army, who is in charge of Sugar factory (6), is ordering cotton famers from Myaypaw, Nyaungpin Wine, Nyaungpin Thar, Thabyaypin, Shankalay and Tharyar village groups to grow sugar cane for the factory," the farmer said.
"He has deployed troops in a local primary school to make sure the villagers are following the order."
The farmer said locals had been forced to grow the crop since last year, but the crop had failed because the land was not suitable.
"We submitted a report on that to the ILO before and they sent some officials here to inspect the fields where we were forced to grow the sugar cane," the farmer said.
"Naypyidaw have also sent a group of inspectors led by colonel Tin Aung Win so they have also seen that the planting was not working on that land," he said.
"In 2007, we lost about 300,000 kyat profit from each acre of land as we were growing the sugar cane instead of other regular crops."
Aung Lan’s sugar cane factory (6) was unavailable for comment.
Reporting by Maung Too