The price of raw opium has gone up to 45,000 baht ($1,500) per viss (1.6 kg) and is likely to go up as much as 50,000 baht ($1,600) by the end of the month due to increased demand, according to sources coming across the border.
“This is twice as much as the price during harvest time”, a young migrant worker returning from Shan State East told SHAN. “My friends were even saying I need not go to Thailand anymore, since income from opium is better.”
Another source confirmed the report adding he saw hundreds of people coming from as far as Taunggyi to work in the poppy fields in one of the townships of Shan State East.
The name of the township and locations have been withheld by request, as previous reports by SHAN had led to order from Naypyitaw to destroy them.
“The officials don’t want to, because they are getting tax from them,” one businessman had told SHAN in 2009. “The farmers are also worried because their fields might be destroyed despite having paid tax.”
Preliminary reports from Shan State South, across the Salween, also say the seeds for the first season of the year have been sown in several townships, including Namzang, Hopong, Hsihseng, Laikha and Mongkeung.
The first season is during the rainy season, the second and main season toward its end and the third during the dry season (grown mostly on the mountains where there is dew for irrigation).
The current price of heroin on the Golden Triangle, where Burma and Thailand meet Laos, is 310,000-320,000 baht ($10,330-10,660), up from $9,700 earlier.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the output from Afghanistan, #1 opium producer, was down during the last season.