Karenni Farmers Struggle After Rice Mills Double Prices

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By Kay Du/ Kantarawaddy Times

The mills have doubled their processing fees, exacerbating hardships for rice farmers who’re already struggling to survive in the face of economic instability caused by massive displacement and conflict in Karenni State.

As it now costs between $1 to $2 to mill a bag of rice, some farmers are pounding it at home using traditional methods that are labour-intensive and time-consuming.

“We only get one bag of rice if we send two bags of rice to the rice mill, but they charge $2 per bag,” a farmer from Demawso Township told Kantarawaddy Times on condition of anonymity.

An owner told Kantarawaddy Times on condition of anonymity that he used take the farmers’ broken rice as payment to mill the good rice, but since the cost of fuel has gone up, was forced to charge for everything to remain profitable. “Broken rice and bran cannot cover the costs of fuel for refining the paddy so now we charge $1 per rice bag. We have to pay for labour costs too.”

For people with a stable business, this isn’t a problem, he said, but for the displaced populations who’re barely making ends meet, it’s a huge problem.

Farmers rely on the smaller mills in the villages because they’re afraid to send their paddy rice to Loikaw for processing as there’s many Burma Army checkpoints along the way.

Another anonymous mill owner said: “We understand what they’re dealing with. They don’t have a regular income, so I take one and a half viss of rice (about 2.5 kg) for each bag of rice instead of taking money from them.”

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