Friday, August 21, 2009

Mutual farming system results in loss of land for farmers

by Phanida
Thursday, 20 August 2009 22:15

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The mutual farming system in collaboration with private companies has been a disaster for over 1,600 farmers from Dagon Seikkan Township in Rangoon Division, with farmers losing their lands, according to the NLD Peasant Affairs Committee.

The new mutual farming system took off in over 30,000 acres of farmlands in a special agricultural zone last year. But this year, the private companies paid a pittance of only Kyat 20,000 per acre instead of the market price of Kyat 400,000 to 500,000 and then seized farmers’ lands.

"The farmlands were taken over by paying only Kyat 20,000 per acre and farmers are not allowed to till the land. Moreover farmers were ordered to demolish the farmhouses on the lands. The farmers are seething in anger," the NLD Peasant Affairs Committee Secretary Kyaw Myint told Mizzima.

Over 10 private companies including Htoo, Dagon International, Pinle Koe Thwe, Good Brother, Ahmyother Totetyay, Shwe Nagar Min, Aden Co. worked the farmlands along with the farmers on a mutual farming system by sharing farm produce.

Under the agreement, the farmers, who own the lands, were to get 40 per cent of the profit and get extra money as wages if they worked on their own farmland as farmhands.

The private companies were to provide farming equipments and implements and all production costs. They firms were to get 60 per cent of the profit for investing.

But the private companies seem to have gone back on their commitment and are now paying at a rate, which is much below the market price. To make matters worse the companies are not letting the farmers work in their paddy fields as farmhands. Adding insult to injury they are being forced to demolish their farmhouses. A farmer from Thayetpin Chaung village has lodged a complaint at the NLD office by providing documentary evidence.

An official of one of the private companies working with farmers said that they could not make profits in keeping with the agreement but some companies did make some profit.

"Initially, we agreed. But later it didn't work out. Some companies paid Kyat 20,000. Those who could not work in their land were content with what they got. Some worked in their land and they got something but not in accordance with the agreement reached," he told Mizzima.

"As for the discontent among farmers, some people who bought the land when prices were low would say they are losing their farmlands. It depends on the private companies too. It's impossible to please everybody in every business," he added.

Over 8,800 acres of paddy fields owned by over 1,600 farmers have a dispute regarding profit sharing and ownership in the agriculture special zone in Dagon Seikkan Township. The villages were the dispute exists are Thayetpinchaung, Nyaungbin, Kyisu, Laydaungkan and Thonegwa, the NLD Peasant Affair Committee Secretary said.

It is learnt that some farmers who received refund for their paddy fields have already lodged complaints with the Ministry of Agriculture and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

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