Silent persecution of China’s banana plantation

San Lat / February 27, 2020

The agricultural sector of China’s banana plantation was introduced five-years ago in the small villages of Waing Maw Township in Kachin State. The region’s most invested by foreign companies are the villages of Nam San Yang, Ga Ra Yang, Da Bak, Mang Wing and Sai Law in the same Township.

Chinese companies lease the lands of the citizens from those villages by 200,000 kyats (US $140) per acre and cultivate farm for two to three years’ banana plantation. Some companies unjustly occupied the lands without having agreement of the residents. Some farmers are living without getting any compensation from their land lease.

The local residents said that perennial crops such as orange farm are destroyed by banana plantation and without being paid the proper compensation from banana company.

I have seven acres of lands and there are trees such as teak, dog fruit (Jengkol), and, orange. But, I have had to lease my farm for two years because other people also lent their lands to the company and therefore, I didn’t have any other choices. Some fruits from my farm are even the time to harvest and eat, however, all are ruined without compensation due to the banana plantation” said Doi Ling from Mai Na IDPs camp in Waing Maw.

Most of the local people are suffering the following disadvantages of planting bananas. The chemical substance (insecticide spray) which is used in spraying banana trees that mostly effect on the natural environments. For example, if the animals ate the sprayed foods or drank the sprayed water, they could die from that. The workers from the banana farm use the chemical substance for fishing in the streams or rivers so that many of fishes die unnecessarily and which occurrence had happened in Wa Shawng village. Also, hearing the fact that cows and buffaloes died due to drinking the sprayed water. Only people who live near by the banana plantation effect more negative consequences of planting bananas.

All the fish died due to spraying the chemical substance that is used in spraying banana plants in our Aung Myay Thit’s stream, said a resident Zau Htong. Two miles of dead fishes are piled up besides the river and local residents who depends on fishing are facing their daily income to survive. By spraying the chemical substance in the stream, “All kind of fishes could have extinct, because of draining of the deadly chemical from banana plantation,” said Zaw Htong.

Later, cultivated banana lands could be difficult to replant other cultivation on them because the lands and fertilizers are damaged due to the overuse of chemical sprays. Also, experienced workers said that the lands are destroyed just because of the insecticide spray, therefore, there are no insects even ants and grasshoppers in banana farms due to the use of mixed chemical sprays

“We do not want to lease our land to Chinese because it will take five or ten years to return. Furthermore, the land soils can destroy if we lease the lands to them,” said Htu Lwan from Ma li Yang IDPs camp in Myitkyina.

Although some civilians lease their lands due to difficulties in their livelihood, some have forcefully taken the civilians’ lands for agricultural purpose. Even more, the dealer cooperates with Chinese businessmen to take advantages and exploitation.

The government should reveal to the public about the information of how much revenue from taxes are receiving through the leased lands.

Former Kachin State chief minister, La John Ngan Seng pointed out that the tissue-culture banana plantation had just begun in the current government and it wasn’t never farmed in the previous government’s tenure.

The workers who are working in the tissue banana farming business do not receive fair wages. Burmese workers get only five to eight thousand kyats (US $5) per day, but the Chinese citizens get more payment than Burmese workers. The Chinese worker get paid over ten thousand kyats (US $7) per day.

Many workers may suffer a serious health problem due to spraying the hazardous chemical on the banana trees. By inhaling the hazardous smell of the liquid in everyday life, the workers should be aware that they might have the potential occurrence of sickness.

The monk from the Wa Shawng village said that there is a girl who aborts her fetus by the chemical smell of banana tree. There are some workers from Ding Jang Yang who are working in banana farm come to ask advise from the Wa Shawng monk about the issues of social and worker rights. The Wa Shawng monk is the one who is an admired person for the local workers.

Majority of the workers came from Sagaing Division and Rakhine State in the banana plantations due to the lack of employment opportunities in their regions. They have no choice to work at the banana business even thought they are being exploited Chinese companies. A few locals work at the banana plantations.

The destruction of soil in Kachin land should be prevented in advance. The experts should solve the problems by working or checking the fields and lands. If not doing so, in the end all the unusable lands will be possessed by all the local Kachin people without getting the appropriated taxes from leased lands. All the business men got the benefits from planting the bananas. Due to the plantation of bananas, ground soils were destroyed and there will be hard to plant the others kinds of plantations, moreover, there are big considerations such as difficulties in livelihood in the future.

Civil wars forced the displaced people to lease their lands. Some of the displaced people lease their lands to others with a small amount of moneys due to the financial difficulties. The contracts of leased lands are kept by the companies. Then there is a big concerned that they do not let the land owners keep the contracts. These kind of abasement have been suffering and experiencing by the displaced people and some of the local people’s lands are taken by forces.

The bananas which is cultivated and produced from Karachi State are exported through Kampaiti border gate to China and then to the Asian Countries. Moreover, bananas are contributed via Laiza border gate which is controlled by the Kachin Indepnedence Organization (KIO). Consequently, by eating the sprayed bananas, it can become deteriorated for well-being of a person as well as all citizens from each country.

In Kachin state, there are many problems that can destroy the lands and soils behind over 150,000 acres cultivated tissue banana project. After the contract is over, the lands that Kachin people will own used lands and damaged soils. Hence, the governments of Kachin state should investigate or consider thoroughly the contract of the leased lands.

I have one-acre land and I planted orange tree in there. But all of them were destroyed, without any compensation, due to the banana plantation. My land was leased to Chinese boss by my friend when I was not in the camp. The lease fee was also taken by them. While contracting the land, the money was given to my friend by the Chinese boss while they were making the contract. “I have already asked the money for two times but, I didn’t get the money yet until now but it was last year,” said Kaw Nau.