Loans offered to farmers through village headmen with mixed reviews
Wed 08 Jul 2009, IMNA, Panorkkyar
This June the Burmese authority, Myanmar Agriculture Development Bank, began offering farmers direct loans in Mon State.
The Myanmar (Burma) Agriculture Development Bank staff members went to every village in Mudon Township and discussed with village headmen the loans for farmers.
One village headman told IMNA that the development bank had discussed the recipients of the loans being able to use them (village headmen) as intermediaries to facilitate the necessary loans.
“They have never come and talked to us before this year…I think this is because of the 2010 election so people will agree to vote for their party [the SPDC],” added the village headman.
In the past, Mon State farmers have had to travel to larger towns to apply for the loans. This year the demand has been high, following the severe drop in rubber prices, and in Mudon the demand has been amongst the highest. The current planting season requires large stores of fertilizer and recent flooding destroyed many paddy fields and rice seedlings in Mon State. Said one farmer, “although I don’t want to borrow government money, I have to because I need to buy fertilizer and I have to pay my workers.”
The farmers would pay the same monthly tax (3 kyat for every 100 kyat borrowed) and could take the loan at the village headman’s house.
Another Mudon farmer said, “this year business has been difficult so farmers are taking out more loans than last year. For one acre [of paddy or plantation] they give you 10 thousand kyat…when the rice grows, we can give back not only with money but also with rice [paddy].”
The government has lent money to farmers indirectly for years though some bemoan the interest and also the timing. With the ability to pay with paddy plants to the government in lieu of money, farmers sometimes have to do so when the price of rice is very low. Still, many find themselves in need of immediate money due to the economic crisis and the current demands of the planting season.