UEHRD says Rakhine harvest will be returned to owners

THE harvest in northern Rakhine will be returned to their owners, according to the committee which is headed by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to help bring peace and development to the region.

The Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine (UEHRD) released a statement yesterday saying that the paddy “harvested will be returned to the original owners either in cash or in the form of paddy.”

“It has been noticed that there had been some confusion among the people and certain international organisations about what is going to happen to the paddy once it has been harvested by government personnel in collaboration with the private sector companies under the auspices of the UEHRD.

“In this regard it has been learnt from the Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor, that the paddy that has been harvested will be returned to the original owners, either in cash or in the form of paddy,” the statement from the UEHRD information and communications office read.

The office added that the arrangement is feasible because the harvested rice has been systematically recorded with the information such as the owner’s name, plot number, the quantity etc – before being bagged and stored in designated storage areas.

The responsibility of recording the information rests with employees from the Agriculture Mechanisation Department (AMD), according to the statement. The AMD staff from Mandalay and Sagaing regions have been brought in to support the local AMD staff to implement this task.

The clarification came following remarks from the Rakhine government.

In an interview uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Information, Rakhine Chief Minister U Nyi Pu said that sales from Maungdaw paddy will be kept as national budget.

“We don’t want the paddies to go to waste so we are doing our utmost to quickly reap them and plus this can contribute to the national budget as well. The money that we receive from sales of these crops will be used in this state’s development. The Union Government wants us to quickly sell the paddies after they have been reaped so we don’t have plans to store them for a long period,” U Nyi Pu stated in the interview.

He added that the state government had already made negotiations with a local buyer, who would purchase all the paddies produced from the area.

“We have already signed a contract with him … We are currently reaping the paddies in Yathedaung and southern Maungdaw, and we will eventually head towards Buthidaung.

“As per the contract, money from the sales of the paddies will be deposited in a bank account as part of the national budget. As to how the money will be utilised will depend on the policies and guidelines the Union Government puts forward,” the chief minister went on.

There are over 70,000 acres of paddy fields in Maungdaw which will produce about 2 million baskets (81,769 tonnes) of paddy, he estimated.

RFA Myanmar cited Rakhine State government and said that, among the 70,000 acres, 30,000 acres are “ownerless” in the area.

This figure is at odds with the estimation by U Kyaw Lwin, State Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Mining , who said there were a total of 45,000 acres of “ownerless Bengali land” in the vicinity.

The Rakhine State government has made a contract with private companies to sell paddy at US$2.65 per 16 baskets, according to RFA Myanmar.

UEHRD background

Amid international pressure on the Rakhine issue, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government formed the UEHRD on October 17 as mechanisms to facilitate repatriation and humanitarian assistance, resettlement and rehabilitation and to jump-start widespread aid and spur economic development with the aim of achieving peace.

Nine working committees were formed under the committee with businesses from the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industries (UMFCCI). The committees will help implement initiatives to help rehabilitate nine selected sectors of the Rakhine State economy, including Special Economic Zone development, construction and infrastructure, agriculture and livestock breeding, information and public relations, job creation and vocational trainings, healthcare, fund raising and tourism promotion.

Source: Myanmar Times

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