Mai Ja Yang Farmers Struggle Amid Border Restrictions

Kachin sugarcane farmers in Mai Ja Yang are at risk of losing profits due to lingering restrictions on exports to China. The Chinese government has opened the Loije checkpoint between the border town controlled by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and China, which in theory should mean relief for farmers. But neither Kachin nor Chinese drivers are allowed to take the produce away. Instead, the produce is delivered by forklift and after disinfection it has to stay in a warehouse on the Chinese side of the border for seven days before it can be delivered to the factory.

“Last year, Chinese drivers were allowed to pick up the trucks carrying the sugar cane at the Loije checkpoint,” a farmer from Mai Ja Yang told KNG. Now it’s too complicated and the quality of the sugar cane is lost because it sits too long, he said, pointing out that they already spray it before it leaves Mai Ja Yang.

Farmers in Mai Ja Yang, the second largest town under KIO control, mainly grow sugarcane, bananas and melons for export to China. If they cannot get these products to market in time, they’ll lose much of their investment.

”If we cannot sell our sugarcane, we’ll have no income and it’ll be difficult to send our children to school,” said the farmer. He said he’s invested in a 10,000 acre farm and has so far only been able to export thirty percent of his produce.

Last July, China closed the border at Loije and Kanpaiti.

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