Govt Likely to End Poppy Cultivation in Chin State
03 November 2011: In a ‘rare’ event where poppy seeds were surrendered and awareness-raising session was conducted, Chief Minister of Chin government last Friday signalled in his speech the end of an era for opium poppy cultivation in Chin State, sources said.
Ex-Gen Hung Ngai said local farmers will stop growing poppies and be provided necessary assistance to start other income-generating agriculture such as animal husbandry and farming, according to the Chin World Media.
The event, also attended by other Chin ministers, departmental officials and local leaders, had about 115.2 kilograms of poppy seeds handed over in Tonzang Town, Tonzang Township on 28 October 2011.
One of the locals from Tedim Town was quoted as saying that the ceremony was both an obvious evidence and an official acceptance of poppy cultivation in Chin State, which had been kept secret for years.
On Saturday, another event was held in Cikha Town, Tonzang Township where nearly 130 kilograms of poppy seeds were surrendered.
It is claimed that poppy cultivation in the northern parts of Chin State had increased since 2006 under the direct control of local military authorities in association of the Meitei underground rebel groups from Manipur State, India.
Grave concerns have been raised among Chin communities as an increasing number of youths and local villagers living near the poppy cultivation in Tonzang Township are known to have got addicted to the opiate products.
“It is very good that the Chin government took this kind of initiative in eradicating something that has destroyed our people. However, time will clearly tell whether the government takes serious action against it or they are just doing it as another pretext,” a Chin community leader, whose name is kept anonymous, told Chinland Guardian.
In July this year, a Christian pastor working in Tonzang Township said the estimated acres of land used for opium poppy plantation must be around 5,000 while other sources claimed to be about 1,000.
It is not yet clear whether the ‘long-standing’ relationship between Burma’s local military authorities and the Meitei rebel groups from India, who are claimed to have been travelling freely in Chin State and parts of Sagaing Division, will come to an end.
Van Biak Thang