Karenni Farmers Harvest Paddy Amid Conflict

By Kantarawaddy Times

The fighting in Karenni State has prevented many villagers from working on their farms, however, now that it is time to harvest their crops, they are forced to risk their lives to save their livelihoods.

”We often flee when the fighting starts, only to return when it has stopped. Our working environment is fraught with fear,” a farmer from Hpruso Township told Kantarawaddy Times.

Many farmers are terrified to return to their land when clashes occur because a shell could easily land in their field, he said, recalling how only a few months ago a man was killed by a shell in his sesame seed farm near Nan Hpe.

Most people in the state are employed as farmers. In May, the fields are ploughed, but this year only a few were able to get their seeds into the ground before they had to flee from Burma Army (BA) offensives. Now these same farmers have to return to harvest their rice fields.

In some areas, soldiers have burned farmers’ rice banks, raising concerns about where they can safely store their rice after harvest.

A man from the Karenni State Farmers’ Union said many of them will have nothing to store for the next season because they have had to abandon their land because of the violence. “They need help from the international community and aid agencies. The farmers have to find a way to overcome the obstacles they face and for which the junta is responsible. I think this is a big challenge for them because they will not have enough to eat,” he said.

According to the Karenni Civil Society Network, 144,449 people have been displaced in the state until 10 October. Between 27 September and 10 October, 5,000 more people were displaced.