Drug bans and poppy crop substitution
|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|
|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
• 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|
|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|
|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|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No. 4|
|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 ï¿½drugs 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)|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"The Irrawaddy" Vol. 13, No. 10|
|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
|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|
|Title:|| ||REPLACING OPIUM IN KOKANG AND WA SPECIAL REGIONS, Shan State, Myanmar
|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."|
|Source/publisher:|| ||Joint Kokang-Wa Humanitarian Needs Assessment Team|
|Format/size:|| ||pdf (83K)|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||01 November 2005|