Opium and the Disconnect Between Farmers and Users

24 December 2015
In the media

Asia Sentinel - Myanmar’s farmers say they’re just trying to make a living. Western authorities see it another way.

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Asia Sentinel

Now opium farmers are speaking out for the first time against the government’s hardline drug policy, with backing from the Transnational Institute, a research and advocacy body based in Amsterdam in an effort to find a path between cultivation and eradication that would allow farmers a way to make a living, spotlighting more the need to reform end-user destinations.

The Third Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum was recently held in the town of Pyin Oo Lwin and brought together 30-odd representatives of local communities involved in poppy cultivation in the major opium growing regions.

“Opium farmers are not criminals,” said a farmer from Kachin State. “We don’t grow opium as a big business to become rich. We grow it as a means of supporting our families.”

The new Myanmar government “should introduce policies that support opium farmers rather than criminalizing them,” said Tom Kramer, the Yangon-based TNI representative. “Myanmar’s harsh drug laws should be reformed and made more humane.”

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