Published on Monday, 30 July 2012 21:15
Some Union ministers and Members of Parliament are involving in land confiscations through their renowned local companies with the reason of ‘contract farming’ project in Yangon.
The contract farming project was initiated for mutual benefits between these business companies and the farmers in Dagon Seikkan Myothit and East Dagon townships in 2008. Later, these companies seized the farmlands from the farmers, and the latter are now staging protest for reasonable compensation for their lands.
About 272 famers held demonstration on 20 July at the farmlands seized by MP U Aung Than Oo, the owner of Pinlal Koe Thwal and Mya Shwe Wah companies.
U Aung Than Oo has sued 30 farmers for trespassing on farmlands, and the farmers are planning to file a lawsuit to U Aung Than Oo for land confiscations at South Dagon Township court.
Lawyer Ko Pho Phyu of farmers said, “Although the companies granted mutual benefits to the farmers from their farmlands, the peasants were hired with wages on daily basis. Each family of farmers was given another land plot of 20ft-60ft without being allowed them to live on the farmlands. The farmers had to abandon from their farms with empty hands. When the farmers ploughed the paddy fields for their livelihood, they were sued for trespassing.”
A farmer from Nyaung Pin Thar Village of Dagon Seikkan Township said, “We had to rely on these farmlands since the time of our ancestors. Previous government suggested us to cooperate in the state projects with agricultural specialized companies. Later, companies changed the word ‘cooperation’ to ‘mutual benefit’. Then we were forcibly expelled from our lands after giving us K 20,000 (US$ 22.5) for relocation cost from the government.”
In May 2009, Shwe Nagar Min Company gave the farmers K 50,000 (US$ 56) per acre to abandon their farmlands.
The 16 local large companies worked on over 7,000 acres of farmlands intended for mutual benefits with farmers. While most of these companies gradually confiscated the lands of farmers, some companies returned the farms to the farmers after realizing the wishes of farmers.
U Soe Myat, project manager of Max Myanmar Company which is working on 380 acres of farmlands together with the farmers, said, “We have been working the farms with the farmers in contract farming system since 2008. We aim to disseminate agricultural knowledge to the farmers, to upgrade the quality of lands and to develop the livelihood of farmers.”
When Max Myanmar Company first ploughed the lands, the earth was covered with thick bushes and not ready for cultivation. The lands were then prepared for cultivation. The farmers were allowed to work the farms with salary or on profit basis by supporting the farmers with inputs, and purchasing the paddy from them, the project manager said.
He also said although these farmlands could produce only 35 baskets of paddy in the past, they have increased to 70 baskets at present.
“Our company takes care of health and education of the family members of farmers. So, our farmers do not protest against our company. We have also decided that we would continue this agricultural project only when the farmers accept our company.”
In accordance with contract farming system, the companies can also purchase more farmlands from nearby farmers.
It was reportedly known that some companies compensated the farmers for the loss of farmlands through the Department of Human Settlement & Housing Development.
A businessperson said that the amount of compensations to the farmers should be audited again.
Land confiscations also occurred at other areas such as Mingalardon and Thanlyin townships.
Dr. Khin Shwe, Amyotha Hluttaw Representative of Yangon Region Constituency (9), grabbed over 1,000-acre- farmlands in field number (531/533) in Minigalardon Township to establish industrial zone of his Zawkabar Company in 2010.
The farmers recounted that at that time the company offered the farmers K 50,000 ((US$ 56) per acre to hand over their farmlands. As they could not make the deal, the company increased to K 300,000 (US$ 337) and warned the farmers that if the farmers do not accept the money, the company will confiscate the farmlands. Then the management of company called the farmers individually almost every day for their land confiscation plan.
The company gave K 240 million (US$ 269,640) to farmers for 815 acres in April 2010, according to the request letter of farmers to the President in February 2012.
The current price of these farmlands has reached K 2 million (US$ 2,247) per acre.
Zawkabar Company could rent these farmlands for cultivation in 2011. Instead, the company established an industrial zone on these lands. Yangon Region General Administration Department (North District) warned the company on 23 December 2011 that the government approval is needed for the establishment of company’s industrial zone (4), and legal action would be taken against the company for destroying the farmlands if it continued industrial zone project.
During Union parliamentary session on 23 July, MP Dr. Khin Shwe denied to return the confiscated farmlands of his company to the farmers as the lands have been sold for industrial zone.
Another land grabbing case occurred between peasants and navy at Alwanswit Village of Thanlyin (Syriam). The officials of Yangon Region Government had to intervene in this case.
Although the farmers have stopped ploughing, they have made a request to the government for their livelihood.
Experts remark that every country will always have development projects, and that these projects should not hurt the livelihood of farmers by laying down the systematic plans.
16 business companies and their cultivation farmlands(acres) in East Dagon and Dagon Seikkan townships
|1.Dagon International||U Win Aung (Chairman, UMFCCI)||750|
|2.Yuzana||U Htay Myint (Pyithu Hluttaw MP)||470|
|3.Myint Zeya||Person who is close to A&I Union Minister||380|
|4.Sin Shweli||Person who is close to A&I Union Minister||600|
|5.Wun Yan Kha||U Tin Win (Pyithu Hluttaw MP)||380|
|6.Shwe Nagar Min||U Win Myint (Union Minister for Commerce)||440|
|7.Shwe Nagar Min (MaHtarSu Village)||U Win Myint (Union Minister for Commerce)||200|
|8.Max Myanmar||U Zaw Zaw (President of Myanmar Football
|9.Shwe Hein Htet||U Win Naing (construction and gem companies)||300|
|10.Aden||U Chit Khaing (Chairman of Rice and Paddy Traders Association)||400|
|11.Grand Asia||U Tun Myint Naing (Asia World Company)||400|
|12.Amyothar KyiPwa Toe Tat Ye||U Soe Tun Shein||400|
|13.Shwe Taung||U Eik Tun||400|
|14. Pinle Koe Thwal||U Aung Than Oo (Yangon Region MP)||450|
|15.Mya Shwe Wah||U Aung Than Oo (Yangon Region MP)||380|
|16.Good Brothers||U Hla Oo||350|
Myawaddy Trading Ltd.( Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd.) involved in the initial period of land confiscation. But the military backed-up company returned the farmlands to the Department of Human Settlement & Housing Development.
It is reportedly known that about 7, 000 acres of farmlands from East Dagon Township of Yangon were leased to business companies. At present the companies have already purchased more farmlands, reaching over 10,000 acres including grazing grounds, flooded areas, ditches and fishing ponds.
The acres and companies are mentioned according to the data of previous monsoon paddy season, not all the farmlands of these companies. The actual number of acres may be more.
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