Locals facing less opium output impact
Poppy farmers northeast of Taunggyi, southern Shan State, have been under hardship to pay back loans as most of their fields were destroyed by the harsh weather conditions in the last season, according to local sources.
By Hseng Khio Fah
6 February 2009
Poppy fields Panglong and Loilem townships were destroyed even more than parts of Laikha, Mongkeung and Kehsi townships. The output from the first two townships could be no more than 20% compared to 30% in the last three, said an opium trader.
Though output from the parts of Hsanien and Wan Yerng, northwest of Panglong, were good, many were destroyed by the junta authorities as they were growing in places easily seen from the motor roads, he added.
As a result, many of poppy farmers in Panglong township had not been able to pay back their fertilizer bills and also their advance loans due to low output and traders are also facing problems to conduct their business.
“We could not ask them to repay even though we had lent them a lot,” said a local trader.
One trader (name unidentified) in Panglong lost around Kyat 50 million (US$47,619), said a farmer.
Most farmers took advance loans from traders or their bosses for the fertilizer and materials at the beginning of the poppy season.
On the other hand, poppy prices have been stable despite less output, said an opium trader.
"The prices are only between Kyat 750,000 kyat (US$714) and 800,000 (US$762) per viss (1.6 kg). But we hope they should go up soon,” he said.
The opium output in southern Shan State was initially expected to be more as the cultivation had doubled.
In the last 10 years, most of the cultivation was in northern Shan State. They had declined due to continued pressure from China. Instead, Shan State South and East saw increased cultivation after opium fields in Shan State north were destroyed during the 2001-2002 season.
The ruling junta has targeted 2014 as the year when opium production will be totally eradicated.