Police force villagers to grow sunflower plants
Police authorities have been forcing villagers in Mong Ngaw Township, Kyaukme District, northern Shan State to grow sunflower plants for cooking oil after harvest of their monsoon paddy.
By: Hseng Khio Fah
Since October last year, villages in Mong Ngaw Township have been forced to grow sunflower plants and each village was ordered to grow at least 5 to 6 acres. In order to grow the plants, villagers need to buy sowing seeds with their own money. A can of the seeds is K1,200 (about US $ 1) and they need to spend at least K 1 million (US $ 800) per 5 - 6 acres per village.
“Currently, people are using their village funds to buy the seeds. But it is not enough, so each household have to pay another K 40,000 (US $ 32). If the money is not enough, then the village headmen will recollect again,” said Nang Hsa, a villager from Manpint in the township.
Another villager, Sai Zing complained and said,” I don’t know why the junta always wants to oppress us. We always have to do as we are told. When they ask for money, we must pay, even we don’t have money to buy food for us. I had no money to pay. That’s the reason I came to Thailand. I came to ask for help from my relatives here. If I can’t pay, the authorities will double amount of the fine.”
Mong Ngaw Township is the home to many different religions and ethnic nationalities such as Lisu, Kachin, Shan, Palaung and Wa. Many of them are tea planters.