Wednesday, 03 June 2020

Kyauktaw, Arakan State: The farmers in Arakan State are finding it difficult to cultivate their farmlands as Burmese Army battalions stationed in the State are forcing them to work in battalion farmlands which were earlier confiscated from the people, said a farmer from Kyauktaw.
The Kyauktaw, Docktaw based Military Operation Command (MOC) 9 ordered the township command; Kyauktaw, Phonagyun, Mrauk U, Rathedaung, Akyab, Kyaukpru and Minbya to provide workforce (the military calls it people force) of farmers for the army farmlands for cultivation in the 2009 – 2010 season, he added.
The farmers have to work in army farmlands by taking along their own food and necessary equipment along with cows for ploughing from 6 am to noon, said a village headman in Rathedaung.
“This year, the monsoons have been late so we need to work in our farmlands to finish cultivation quickly, as it is already late, but the military has ordered us to work first on their land without any wages. So we lose out on both sides,” said a farmer who worked for a week in the fields of the army battalion.
“This season, we may not be able to produce enough food for our survival, if farmers are unable to work in their farmlands,” said a school teacher from Minbya.
Beside this, the authorities, sold fertilizer forcibly to farmers telling them that if they were unable to pay the cost of fertilizer in time, they could by way of giving paddy later, said a village headman from Kyauktaw.
The authorities sold white fertilizer for 30,000 kyat and black fertilizer at 40,000 kyat per sack, he said.
The system in vogue has been imposed in Arakan State on the directives of the Western Command Commander’s Office. Farmers have to cultivate their confiscated farmland.  Losing land and being forced to work on army land raises the question of their survival, he added.