Healthcare Service, Food Security, and Sustainable Development: Main Reasons to Grow Opium Poppy in Myanmar

Healthcare Service, Food Security, and Sustainable Development: Main Reasons to Grow Opium Poppy in Myanmar

Hai Thanh Luong (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0125-2.ch006
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This chapter aims to analyze discrimination and disadvantage of local farmers in the process of opium eradication in Myanmar based on their specific explanations. The author utilizes some data and information collected from official reports and statements of the Myanmar Opium Farmers' Forum (2013-2018). Some multiple sources from inside and outside Myanmar in terms of human rights of ethnic minorities' opium farmers are also added. The current findings point out that there are a number of concerns and disadvantages with local opium farmers to look for survival livelihood, food security, and sustainable development in ethnic minorities' communities in Myanmar, particularly at Shan and Kachin States. The chapter also calls for further researches with specific recommendations and effective solutions for local opium farmers in the next stages.
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Backgroud: Poppy-Land In Shan And Kachin States

Known as the main contributory countries in the Golden Triangle’s opium volume in the world, there are a number of publications and researches which focus on history of poppy cultivation with different approaches to make clear the real story of poppy-land in Myanmar. In this regard, the largest size of opium cultivation, from the past to present, is recorded to grow across the Shan and Kachin States, which shared borderlands between Myanmar and its neighboured countries. While the Shan State is the largest state, the Kachin is the highest mountain region in Myanmar and both share close border with China in the north, Laos in the east and Thailand in the south. It is home to around 7.5 million people of more than 40 different ethnic groups.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Kachin State: The Kachin State is the highest mountain region in Myanmar and shares close border with China, in the north, Laos in the east and Thailand in the south. Kachin is one of the states with continuous approval to maintain anti-narcotics civil organizations which involves drug control policies, funded by churches such as Pat Ja San, set up in 2014 by the Christian community.

Alternative Development: AD is an approach aimed at reducing the vulnerabilities arising from involvement in opium cultivation in Myanmar and provides alternative livelihood. As a long-term strategy, AD can attract investment and assist to develop the basic infrastructure, healthcare services and food security of ethnic minorities in Shan and Kachin States.

Healthcare Service: Although health care and its related facilitates are considered as the basic elements to improve the quality for local people, lack of these services in most ethnic minorities in Shan and Kachin States have also led the local people to use opium as traditional medicine to treat themselves.

Food Security: A basic measure of the availability of food and access to provide by government in order to ensure and maintain vital needs such as foods, vegetable and poultry.

Shan State: The Shan State is the largest state in Myanmar and recorded as the heart of the Golden Triangle which covers nearly 90 percent of all the opium in the region. Yet, a number of militias and armed groups are still challenging the government in the process of peaceful negotiation.

Land Conflict: Conflict between local minority communities and the government over their customary and traditional land with the current land laws, which still continues to pose a number of serious concerns and far-reaching implications for millions of rural working people in Myanmar, especially in ethnic nationality regions.

Ethnic Minorities: In Myanmar, at least more than 135 ethnic minority groups exist, though the exact data are still not released by the authorities. It is also confirmed that Myanmar has one of the most diverse backgrounds and various ethnicities in the world.

Opium Cultivation: As the second largest opium poppy producer in the world, Myanmar is still the most contributor of opiates in the Asian region in recent decades.

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