Farmers upset as Burma Army destroys rubber plantations on previously confiscated lands

September 15, 2017

Farmers in Jone Paw village near Ye City, Ye Township, Mon State are upset that Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #586 has been clearing confiscated rubber plantations and selling the wood. According to reports, four plantations have already been destroyed.

The military cut the trees and sold them without any notification to the owners. The military said that they cut the plants as they were no longer productive, but all my plants are good. They have already cut 1,000 plants from my farm,” said Daw Ngwe Pin, a local rubber farmer.

In 2000, LIB #586 confiscated 341 acres of land from rubber plantations adjacent to their army base in Jone Paw village. The battalion announced that they would allow the land owners to use their farms for another five years, after which they would have to pay an annual fee in order to continue farming.

According to Daw Sein whose land was also confiscated, if they did not pay the tax, they could no longer use the plants on their farm. “The military specified the amount we needed to pay on our plants and land. If we can’t pay them, we can’t use our land. We are allowed to split the fee into three payments over the year.”

The annual tax on farmers’ land and plants has varied over the years: between 2006 to 2009, owners had to pay 800 kyat per plant; from 2010 to 2013 around 1,000 to 1,500 kyat; from 2014 to 2015, 700 kyat; and from 2015 to 2017, 350 kyat per plant.

If we compare the income from our farm to the money that we need to pay for tax to the military, just a small amount of money for our family is left,” explained Daw Ngwe Pin.

The challenges local farmers face in their livelihoods with the tax is compounded by fluctuations in the price of rubber on the global market.

The price of rubber is not stable. If the price of rubber is higher, we get some more money to spend and if the price is low we don’t receive any profit. Some owners can’t use their land because they can’t pay the tax,” said U Tin Oo whose land was also confiscated by the military.

Land owners have requested that LIB #586 stop cutting their rubber trees without their permission and to allow them to use their own land freely. According to Daw Ngwe Pin, those who have lost their land plan to report the issue to the union government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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