- Web Master
- September 27, 2023
Rice traders are expressing their concerns over the increasing challenges posed by the tightening restrictions on rice shipments in Rakhine State by the Military Council.
In the past, transporting rice in Rakhine State didn't necessitate an official certificate. However, the current scenario demands such documentation; without it, traders could potentially encounter threats and extortion from authorities.
On August 11th, at the Kyauk Ta Lone checkpoint while entering Kyaukphyu, a group of soldiers and police halted three rice-laden trucks en route from Toungup to Kyaukphyu for inspection. Following the inspection, six bags of rice were taken from the trucks before they were allowed to proceed, according to a rice trader.
"They threatened us by asking how long we wanted to stay locked up. We were really frightened. Around ten of us, who were rice traders and truck drivers, were called over. They made us pay two bags of rice for each truck; otherwise, we'd be held for three or four nights. That's why we ended up giving them six bags of rice”, a trader witnessing the extortion told Narinjara.
"Back then, we didn't have to show a certificate when moving rice from Toungup to Kyaukphyu. We could even take rice out of Rakhine State. But now, they're warning us that we'll get arrested if we don't have the certificate”, another rice trader who did not want to be named said.
In Rakhine State, the combination of conflict and storms has led to the destruction of farmlands, resulting in a significant increase in rice prices. This unfortunate situation is further compounded by the burden of extortionate inspections, which are only adding to the challenges faced by the local population, a rice trader also criticized.
"We, local rice traders, can't afford to trade large quantities of rice. About 10 of us pooled together, each with 10 bags of rice. Even though we didn't have much rice, they demanded certificates. Adding 35000 kyats for trading between Toungup and Kyaukphyu just doesn't work for small traders like us. This will only make rice prices go up. In times of people's hardship, such actions shouldn't happen”, he said.
The rice traders mentioned that they typically had to pay 30000 kyats to the township administrative officer and an additional 5000 kyats to the ward administrative officer in order to obtain a certificate letter.
"Some rice traders usually come to the office to get the certificate. Others, if they don't have a certificate while carrying rice, get stopped on the road and face problems. But we never demanded rice from the traders”, U Myo Min Tun, the administrative officer of Kyaukphyu Township, provided a response when asked by Narinjara.
This year, Cyclone Mocha resulted in saline water entering agricultural lands in many townships across Rakhine State, leading to the destruction of vast acres of rice fields.
Because rice seeds were destroyed, a lot of farmers couldn't plant their crops, causing rice prices in Rakhine State to be higher compared to previous years.
In spite of the challenges brought by Cyclone Mocha, over 70,000 acres of farmland were diligently cultivated in Kyauktaw, Minbya, and Mrauk-U Townships. Unfortunately, these efforts were marred by heavy rains in early August, leading to further damage, as reported by the United League of Arakan (ULA) on August 14th.