“There are no vacant and fallow lands in our Shan state. We only have customary farms where our ancestors have always cultivated their crops,” a farmer told SHAN.
Farmers in northern Shan State protested against a controversial amendment of a land law in Myanmar. About 700 gathered in Namma village, in Hsipaw township, holding a large vinyl sign that said: “there are no vacant and fallow lands in Shan state.”
An amendment to the Vacant Fallow Virgin Lands Management (VFV) first introduced in 2012 was supposed to make things better. Critics say because of the short six-month deadline to register land (the deadline was March 11) and a general lack of information about the law for those that are affected it will lead to more land grabs and not land reform.
“The government announced that farmers must register their farmlands under the VFV within 6 months. I don’t think this process can be done in 6 months. We are discussing what will happen if farmers register or don’t register their farmlands,” said Sai Thein Myint, chairperson of Tai Youth Power United (TYPU).
Under the VFV, land that isn’t registered is considered vacant or fallow and can be leased out to commercial enterprises.
At the protest, there were concerns about if farmers register their land they are essentially accepting the VFV.
“There are no vacant and fallow lands in our Shan state,” a farmer told SHAN. “We only have customary farms where our ancestors have always cultivated their crops.”
According to the VFV amendment, about one-third or 50 million acres in Myanmar, mainly in ethnic areas where customary land systems have been in place for generations, are affected.