Wed, Mar 27, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Rising drug trade threatens Myanmar’s aspirations

Much of Myanmar remains lawless and mired in poverty, and villagers in remote areas have few options beyond farming poppies for opium and producing methamphetamines

By Jocelyn Gecker  /  AP, THON MIN YAR, Myanmar

Eligh’s pilot project has already persuaded some farmers to switch, but they may end up switching right back.

A middle-aged farmer named Awa Wadaa grew opium for 20 years and was pulling in US$3,500 a year in the five-month poppy season when the UN offered him a way out. Last year, he worked year-round rotating crops of corn, potatoes and sunflowers, and earned just US$500.

“I don’t want to grow poppies. I understand it is illegal and that drugs hurt our children,” Awa Wadaa said.

However, the father of five added that without his poppy-farming income, he cannot afford to keep his children in school.

“If I can’t find a way to make more money, I will definitely go back to growing poppies,” he said.

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