Debts Pressure Rice Farmers to Sell at Low Prices

A farmer plants rice seedlings in a paddy field on the outskirts of Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

A farmer plants rice seedlings in a paddy field on the outskirts of Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — Farmers in Pegu Division and parts of the Irrawaddy Delta are being forced to sell their rice crops at low prices to pay off high-interest loans incurred as a result of flooding during last year’s growing season, according to sources in the area known as Burma’s rice bowl.

“One hundred baskets of paddy sell for 400,000 kyat [US $460] in the market, but we have to sell ours for 300,000 to 350,000 kyat to repay our debt,” said Sein Than, a farmer with 15 acres of rice fields in eastern Pegu Division.

Many farmers are now facing especially heavy debt loads due to last year’s heavy rains, which flooded fields and destroyed crops. In an effort to recover from the loss, some farmers attempted to replant late in the season with money borrowed at high interest rates from private lenders.

However, an official from the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) said that the area affected by the flooding was relatively small, meaning that last year’s weather would not have a serious impact on overall rice yields for the region or on rice prices nationwide.

MRF General Secretary Ye Minn Aung also said that efforts are being made to provide farmers with better access to credit through a system that would see a greater consolidation of rice stockpiles.

“The MRF plans to set up warehouses in every township in paddy-growing areas where farmers can keep their paddy. Farmers who use the warehouses will be able to receive money in advance from the Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank,” he said.

Another problem facing farmers, however, is a fall in rice prices on the international market. To remedy this issue, the Myanmar Farmers Association (MFA) said that the government would buy paddy from farmers at a fixed price so that they wouldn’t have to sell at low prices.

“Around 500 farmers from the delta area were planning to protest against the low prices earlier this month, but we asked them what they wanted, and they said they want the government to buy their paddy at good price so they would have enough money to grow pulses,” said an MFA spokesperson.

After the discussions, the farmers agreed to call off the protests when the MRF said it would buy rice in cooperation with the government, the spokesman added.

6 Responses to Debts Pressure Rice Farmers to Sell at Low Prices

  1. Government needs to help them and protect them from predators. These farmers are the ones who feed us. Government has to provide farmers with subsidiaries. Every time we sit down on the table for meals, we need to thank two person, one is God and the other is farmer(s).

    • In Burma, government is the predator, now helped in every which way by the so-called “Opposition groups”.

      But farmers, surely are the natiuon’s Kyae-zu-shin.

      Now all are for “wealth” desperate to “Kyae-zu-kun”.

      wealth= money.

      Kyae Zu thi is onky for cultured people. Once GREED takes over, Law-ba padana, only hell looks enjoyable.

  2. While in Thailand, we have a government keeping prices artificially high, at a cost predicted to top some $1.3Bn, and all in the name of populism!

    Net result, predictably, is that the farmers grow even more rice; much of it will never again see the light of day; and the responsible government minister quotes inter state sales, but we only have his word for that, as the physical records cannot be revealed due to the potential implications for national security.

    The phrases ‘Butter Mountains’ ‘Sugar Mountains’ and ‘Milk Lakes’ seem to belong to an era of European history of which Thai government ministers are blissfully ignorant.

  3. Amen to that. Only the govt is helping big business drive farmers out of their land. They want to introduce industrial scale farming to export cash crops and then rely on food imports and foreign aid for domestic consumption instead. People can either starve if they can’t afford to buy or depend on charity. Farmers can become wage slaves on the confiscated land or in the SEZs. That’s the plan.

    Sound advice such as Lex Rieffel’s that says, “What is important for Myanmar’s economic success is raising rural household incomes, not achieving some arbitrary export target” will fall on deaf ears.

  4. I feel very sade for thoses farmers,who are realy trying there best to get a better life for there family and just them knows about there problems but writing our comments are good but we must try to help thoses farmers as well,we needs more action to help them,we should collect money from us(if you realy want to do somethings for them).God bless us to have a better life in others country but some peoples forget about there pass,every day we are eating food but thoses poor peoples in burma mors the times they don’t have nothing to eat.Please,please help them with your heart,thanks

  5. No area in Burma is more fundamental and more important than farming sector as they call it in impersonal tone in modern speech.

    Farmers are the kyae-zu-shin. farmers are the custodian of not only the culture and religion- whatever denomination it is, but also they are the pillars of morality.

    Now, Anug San Suu Kyi, 88’s led “Opposition” eager to promote the Sit-tut plan to sell out the country for “Wealth” and helping the rulers and the international business interests to drive our farmers out of their own ancestral land, be it in remote area or in the Irrawaddy delta, with predatory lending- rife as we speak, and price manipulation as well as assistance tot he predators, the future looks grim.

    Unless the people of the land unite, learn and resist together- as they are the real owners of the POWER, all will be lost in no time.

    Many a son and daughter of the land now abroad or educated inland should stop and think the real impact of their call for the electricity and 4G’s etc, for the sake of helping with their feeling inferior to the neighbouring countries. Those who are willing to sell out their own “Kyae-zu-shins” should think twice about it.

    Yes- electricity is important. But how much land are we prepared to flood for that end? How much land to be poisoned and destroyed? Same goes with all these “developments” in the name of which the Kachins are being l]killed ruthlessly now.

    Yes, there must be improvement in people’s lives. But only with EQUAL OPPORTUNITY for EACH and EVERY ONE of them and only in a sustainable way. And that is immensely possible.

    Burma is now in totally, totally wrong track.

    Stop, go back and think again!

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