25 February 2011: Instead of normal farming activities 1000 acres of land are being brought under poppy cultivation by local people in Northern Chin state, Burma.
“The poppy field was cut down by local people; it will be burnt down in May, 2011,” said local on condition of anonymity.
Local authorities have been collecting taxes from cultivators regularly in the region for the past few years, so local people cultivate poppy which leads to more income than jhum (shifting) cultivation.
“Local army and police collect tax. The army collected one kilogram per household into poppy cultivation, but the police have no fixed taxes. They collect anything between 10,000 to 30,000 Kyats per household” said a local.
Similarly, Cannabis, also known as marijuana (locally called Kanza) is being planted in farm land to get more income in Tonzang Township, Chin state, an area which is mostly controlled by rebel groups from Northeast India.
Presently, one viss of opium is Kyat 6 lakhs locally and the opium is being collected to be sold to Chinese drug traders from Chin state. Some sources say that opium is being turned into heroin in Tamu Township in Sagaing division.
Indian rebel groups paid taxes to the local junta authorities to cultivate poppy in this area last year.
The first attempt at poppy cultivation was said to have begun in the period of Ne Win, former Burmese military ruler. But the project failed due to the intervention of a Chin students group and now the authorities seem to have resumed Ne Win’s, policy in Burma , which still remains the second largest opium producer in the world after Afghanistan. Khonumthung News
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