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Farmers pressured to repay state loans

Feb 3, 2009 (DVB), Farmers in lower Burma, who have been finding it difficult to pay back agricultural loans due to low yields and falling prices, are coming under pressure from the authorities to make the repayments.

The loans were taken out at the onset of the monsoon season in May/June from the Myanmar agricultural bank, and were set to be paid back nationwide at the end of January.

Farmers in Rangoon division’s Thonegwa township have come under pressure from agricultural bank manager Su Su Maw, one farmer said.

"Farmers only have rice but the price is low and the market is not open, so we lose money when we sell rice," the farmer said.

"We do not get money straight away either when we sell rice and they are pressuring us to pay back the loans within the appointed time. We have to sell what we have," he said.

"In the past, we had to repay in February. Now farmers are finding it hard to pay back the loans as the bean crops are not ready yet and rice is not selling well."

In nearby Bago division, farmers are also finding it hard to repay the loans, a farmer from Tharawaddy said.

"The rice yield is down, the price is down so we make no money from the sale," the farmer said.

"So we can’t pay back the loans."

"We had to take out advance loans for the beans and we have had to pay that back too, so there is no money left for us."

A farmer from Nyaunlebin said farmers in his township had been unable to pay back the loans and were facing mounting pressure.

Some have resorting to killing the working animals they use for ploughing the fields to make ends meet, the farmer said.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw