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Drug bans and poppy crop substitution

Individual Documents

Title: Financing Dispossession - China’s Opium Substitution Programme in Northern Burma
Date of publication: February 2012
Description/subject: "Northern Burma’s borderlands have undergone dramatic changes in the last two decades. Three main and interconnected developments are simultaneously taking place in Shan State and Kachin State: (1) the increase in opium cultivation in Burma since 2006 after a decade of steady decline; (2) the increase at about the same time in Chinese agricultural investments in northern Burma under China’s opium substitution programme, especially in rubber; and (3) the related increase in dispossession of local communities’ land and livelihoods in Burma’s northern borderlands. The vast majority of the opium and heroin on the Chinese market originates from northern Burma. Apart from attempting to address domestic consumption problems, the Chinese government also has created a poppy substitution development programme, and has been actively promoting Chinese companies to take part, offering subsidies, tax waivers, and import quotas for Chinese companies. The main benefits of these programmes do not go to (ex-)poppy growing communities, but to Chinese businessmen and local authorities, and have further marginalised these communities. Serious concerns arise regarding the long-term economic benefits and costs of agricultural development— mostly rubber—for poor upland villagers. Economic benefits derived from rubber development are very limited. Without access to capital and land to invest in rubber concessions, upland farmers practicing swidden cultivation (many of whom are (ex-) poppy growers) are left with few alternatives but to try to get work as wage labourers on the agricultural concessions. Land tenure and other related resource management issues are vital ingredients for local communities to build licit and sustainable livelihoods. Investment-induced land dispossession has wide implications for drug production and trade, as well as border stability. Investments related to opium substitution should be carried out in a more sustainable, transparent, accountable and equitable fashion. Customary land rights and institutions should be respected. Chinese investors should use a smallholder plantation model instead of confiscating farmers land as a concession. Labourers from the local population should be hired rather than outside migrants in order to funnel economic benefits into nearby communities. China’s opium crop substitution programme has very little to do with providing mechanisms to decrease reliance on poppy cultivation or provide alternative livelihoods for ex-poppy growers. Chinese authorities need to reconsider their regional development strategies of implementation in order to avoid further border conflict and growing antagonism from Burmese society. Financing dispossession is not development."
Author/creator: Tom Kramer & Kevin Woods
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute (TNI)
Format/size: pdf (2.7MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.tni.org/sites/www.tni.org/files/download/tni-financingdispossesion-web.pdf
Date of entry/update: 23 February 2012

Title: Alternative Development or Business as Usual? China’s Opium Substitution Policy in Burma and Laos
Date of publication: November 2010
Description/subject: Conclusions & Recommendations: • The huge increase in Chinese agricultural concessions in Burma and Laos is driven by China’s opium crop substitution programme, offering subsidies and tax waivers for Chinese companies. • China’s focus is on integrating the local economy of the border regions of Burma and Laos into the regional market through bilateral relations with government and military authorities across the border. • In Burma large-scale rubber concessions is the only method operating. Initially informal smallholder arrangements were the dominant form of cultivation in Laos, but the topdown coercive model is gaining prevalence. • The poorest of the poor, including many (ex-) poppy farmers, benefit least from these investments. They are losing access to land and forest, being forcibly relocated to the lowlands, left with few viable options for survival. • New forms of conflict are arising from Chinese large-scale investments abroad. Related land dispossession has wide implications on drug production and trade, as well as border stability. • Investments related to opium substitution plans should be carried out in a more sustainable, transparent, accountable and equitable fashion with a community-based approach. They should respect traditional land rights and communities’ customs.
Author/creator: Rob Cramb, Vongpaphane Manivong, Jonathan Newby, Kem Sothorn, Patrick Sujang
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational InstituteDrug (Policy Briefing No. 33)
Format/size: pdf (304K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.tni.org/node/595/by-country/Burma
Date of entry/update: 15 November 2010

Title: From Golden Triangle to Rubber Belt ? - The Future of Opium Bans in the Kokang and Wa Regions
Date of publication: July 2009
Description/subject: "In the Kokang and Wa regions in northern Burma opium bans have ended over a century of poppy cultivation. The bans have had dramatic consequences for local communities. They depended on opium as a cash crop, to buy food, clothing, and medicines. The bans have driven poppy-growing communities into chronic poverty and have adversely affected their food security. Very few alternatives are being offered to households for their survival... Conclusions & Recommendations: • The opium bans have driven communities into chronic poverty and have adversely affected their food security and access to health care and education. • The Kokang and Wa authorities have promoted Chinese investment in mono-plantations, especially in rubber. These projects are unsustainable and do not significantly profit the population. • Ex-poppy farmers mainly rely on casual labour and collecting Non-Timber Forest Products as alternative source of income. • Current interventions by international NGOs and UN agencies are still limited in scale and can best be described as “emer-gency responses”. • If the many challenges to achieving viable legal livelihoods in the Kokang and Wa regions are not addressed, the reductions in opium cultivation are unlikely to be sustainable. The Kokang and Wa cease-fire groups have implemented these bans following international pressure, especially from neighbouring China. In return, they hope to gain international political recognition and aid to develop their impoverished and war-torn regions. The Kokang and Wa authorities have been unable to provide alternative sources of income for ex-poppy farmers. Instead they have promoted Chinese invest-ment in monoplantations, especially in rubber. These projects have created many undesired effects and do not significantly profit the population. The Burmese military government, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has also been unwilling and unable to provide assistance. The international community has provided emergency aid through inter-national NGOs and UN agencies. However, current levels of support are insufficient, and need to be upgraded in order to provide sustainable alternatives for the population. The international community should not abandon former opium-growing communities in the Kokang and Wa regions at this critical time..."
Author/creator: Tom Kramer
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Insititute (Drug Policy Briefing Nr 29)
Format/size: pdf (217K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.tni.org/briefing/golden-triangle-rubber-belt

Date of entry/update: 11 August 2010

Title: Access Denied
Date of publication: April 2006
Description/subject: "Thai opium crop substitution program in Burma hits problems... A Thai project under royal patronage to wean farmers in Burma's Shan State away from opium production is encountering problems because of political changes in Rangoon. Since the fall of prime minister and military intelligence chief Gen Khin Nyunt, staff of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation in northern Thailand have been denied direct access to the project, known as Doi Tung 2, established at Yong Kha in southeastern Shan State. Project staff say the four-year-old crop substitution project is still functioning, but with local supervision..."
Author/creator: Michael Black and Roland Fields
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No. 4
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 28 December 2006

Title: A Downward Spiral
Date of publication: October 2005
Description/subject: Proposed opium bans could spark a humanitarian crisis in Burma's drug-rich north... "United Wa State Army chairman Bao Yuxiang said on June 24, after proclaiming Special Region 2 a �drugs source free zone"How are the farmers going to survive after the poppy ban? This is the big question that every level of local authorities encounters."The lives of the people will become more difficult, and we do expect the international community will give us more assistance to let the people be able to overcome the difficulties and achieve the historical commitment." The Wa and Kokang regions in northern Shan State have traditionally been the major opium-producing areas in Burma, but this could change. The UWSA has declared the areas under their control opium free as of June 26, 2005. In the Kokang region an opium ban has been in effect since 2003, while the Mong La region in eastern Shan State has had a similar ban since 1997. The implementation of these opium bans in one of the world's largest opium-producing areas may sound promising to international anti-narcotics officials, but for the opium farmers living there it could spell disaster..."
Author/creator: Tom Kramer (TNI)
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 13, No. 10
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 30 April 2006

Title: Downward Spiral: Banning Opium in Afghanistan and Burma
Date of publication: June 2005
Description/subject: "...Opium farmers in Afghanistan and Burma are coming under huge pressure as local authorities implement bans on the cultivation of poppy. Banning opium has an immediate and profound impact on the livelihoods of more than 4 million people.These bans are a response to pressure from the international community. Afghan and Burmese authorities alike are urging the international community to accompany their pressure with substantial aid. For political reasons, levels of humanitarian and alternative development aid are very different between the two countries. The international community has pledged several hundred millions for rural development in poppy growing regions in Afghanistan. In sharp contrast, pledged support that could soften the crisis in poppy regions in Burma is less than $15 million, leaving an urgent shortfall. Opium growing regions in both countries will enter a downward spiral of poverty because of the ban.The reversed sequencing of first forcing farmers out of poppy cultivation before ensuring other income opportunities is a grave mistake.Aggressive drug control efforts against farmers and small-scale opium traders, and forced eradication operations in particular, also have a negative impact on prospects for peace and democracy in both countries. In neither Afghanistan nor Burma have farmers had any say at all in these policies from which they stand to suffer most. It is vital that local communities and organisations that represent them are given a voice in the decision-making process that has such a tremendous impact on their livelihoods..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute (TNI)
Format/size: pdf (340.59 K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.idpc.net/php-bin/documents/TNI_BP_OpiumAfghAndBurma_EN.pdf
Date of entry/update: 11 August 2010

Date of publication: 2003
Description/subject: "In March 2003, a joint assessment team comprising international NGOs and UN agencies operating in Myanmar traveled to the Kokang and Wa Special Regions in north-eastern Shan State. Their purpose was to assess the humanitarian impact of the opium ban in the Kokang region, and the potential impact of a similar ban due to go into effect in the Wa region in June 2005. The following is the report submitted by this team after their mission. It is unedited and unabridged. Maps used in the report have been removed to reduce the file size. They are available from the UNODC Myanmar Office upon request."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Joint Kokang-Wa Humanitarian Needs Assessment Team
Format/size: pdf (83K)
Date of entry/update: 01 November 2005