Bago Interview: Saw A---, August 2017

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Bago Interview: Saw A---, August 2017

Published date:
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

This Interview with Saw A-- describes his perspective on events occurring in Pyu Township, Bago Region bordering Moo Township in Karen National Union [KNU] territory area, during the period between 2015 and 2017, including a decrease in the price of rice, livelihoods’ challenges, education, health, social events and development.

  • Since the price of rice dropped in 2016, farmers from B--- village, also known as C--- village, Eastern Ka Nyut Kwin Town, Pyu Township, Bago Region and other areas have faced challenges in their livelihoods. As a result, they struggled to organise social events and to afford health expenditure and to provide financial support for their children’s education. Many young people chose to migrate to Thailand or Mandalay and the Irrawaddy region to seek out job opportunities.
  • Villagers highlighted the difference in the price of rice in recent years between the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the National League for Democracy (NLD) governments; the price of rice during the USDP government was 600,000 kyat [US $441.81] per 100 baskets, but it fell to 400,000 kyat [US $294.54] per 100 baskets of rice during the NLD government.  
  • Saik Bank loans money to the farmers in B--- villagers, but the cost of hiring daily workers is higher than the price they receive for their rice, so farmers are in a difficult situation when it comes to repaying their debt because they have to sell more rice than previously in order to have the same income.
  • Villagers reported this issue in order to get attention from the government and they also request the Burma/Myanmar government to consider their points and address the low price of rice and the comparatively high cost of labour. 

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains community members in southeastern Burma/Myanmar to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format; conduct interviews with other villagers; and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When conducting interviews, community members are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in southeastern Burma/Myanmar, KHRG aims to make all field information received available on the KHRG website once it has been processed and translated, subject only to security considerations. For additional reports categorised by Type, Issue, Location and Year, please see the Related Readings component following each report on KHRG’s website.

[3] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 16/11/17 official market rate of 1,364.90 kyat to US $1.

[4] A basket is a unit of volume used to measure paddy, milled rice and seeds. One basket is equivalent to 20.9 kg or 46.08 lb of paddy, and 32 kg or 70.4 lb of milled rice. A basket is twice the volume of a big tin.

[5] 1 cart is a colloquial form of measurement equivalent to roughly 25 baskets  of produce.

[6] A basket is a unit of volume used to measure paddy, milled rice and seeds. One basket is equivalent to 20.9 kg or 46.08 lb of paddy, and 32 kg or 70.4 lb of milled rice. A basket is twice the volume of a big tin.

[7] There has been an increasing amount of farmers being unable to repay their debts and defaults on loans have become more common. For more information see, ‘Defaults up on the back of rising loans disbursed to farmers,’ October 2017, Myanmar Times, and ‘Rescuing Myanmar’s farmers from the debt trap,’ April 2017, The Economist.

[8] Saik agricultural bank is commonly understood by villagers to be part of the Burma/Myanmar government; however our researcher was unable to find out more specific information.

[9] For further information regarding the falling rice price in Burma/Myanmar,  see “Myanmar rice price falls as Chinese demand slows,” July 2016, Myanmar Times.