Thursday, August 17, 2017

Farmland to be returned to Mandalay farmers

More than 768.9 hectares (1900 acres) of farmland seized by government departments during the years of former governments in Mandalay Region will be returned to the owners, said Dr Soe Than, Mandalay Region Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.

He said the relevant ministries have agreed to return more than 768.9 hectares (1900 acres) of confiscated farmland in the region. The land will be returned to farmers at a ceremony in April.

Investigations into land grabs are also continuing, he added.

“Both Union Government and the regional government are working on returning confiscated farmland to the original farmers. At present, we are planning to return up to 1900 acres in the region to the original farmers,” Dr Soe Than said on March 6.

“But there are still ownership disputes among farmers, so we hope we can give back all of the confiscated farmlands after these problems are resolved,” he added.

Farmers will be given back their land along with Form-7 and Form-3 ownership certificates, Dr Soe Than said.

Investigations into the remaining confiscated farmland in the region are continuing and the ministries involved have been asked to return the land, he said.

“Our regional government is still weak in conducting field investigations over farmland problems. So they don’t know that the farmers are facing difficulties. Farmers have been sued by ministries over confiscated farmland. There is a lot of confiscated farmland in Mandalay Region. Other regions are also weak in dealing with the land grab issue,” said farmer activist Ko Aye Thein.

Currently, in Mandalay Region, farmers are still being detained for causing public mischief against the state, trespassing and causing damage, under Sections 505, 447 and 427 of the Penal Code respectively, over confiscated farmland.

Farmers have held demonstrations, calling on the regional government to release the detained farmers.

“According to our survey, there are up to 300 court cases against farmers at present. We want the government to withdraw these cases against them,” said Ko Ye Yint Aung, a farmer from Madaya township.

Translation by Zar Zar Soe