CHIANGRAI TIMES – Thailand and Myanmar narcotics control agencies, plus a related foundation, are joining together to develop their peoples’ quality of life by fighting against drugs at the root cause of the problem by replacing crops in opium farming areas.
Myanmar national police chief Pol Maj Gen Kyaw Kyaw Tun, who heads his country’s drug control agency, visited this northern Thai province Friday to meet with Thailand’s Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew and Mae Fah Luang Foundation Secretary-General Disnadda Diskul.
The Myanmar drug programme chief visited the foundation’s Doi Tung Development Project to consider using it as a model for an alternative sustainable project in Shan State along the Thai-Myanmar border, where many opium plantations occur, resulting in significant heroine production and drug channelling through northern Thailand.
Thai ONCB head Pol Gen Adul said the first six months of the process will create understanding among ethnic minorities in Myanmar and to foster a positive attitude about sustainable living with the forest in their land.
Thai officials in both agencies will assist in lifting the quality of life for local residents, building a local heath station, and promoting good livelihoods without relying on drugs.
Guidelines for planting replacement crops in opium growing areas will be provided by the Doi Tung Development Project.
Representatives from ONCB and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation will be discussing with representatives from Myanmar again tomorrow at Shan State’s Tha Chi Lek to agree to terms and agreements on which areas in Myanmar to be applied with the project.
The Thai government supports an annual budget of Bt15 million to develop plantations in Myanmar as a way to address the drug problem at its root cause.
According to a related report, there are around 36,000 rai of farm land, or 14,400 acres, dedicated to opium plantation in Myanmar near the Thai border. Such an expanse of land can produce around 14 tonnes of heroine, which 20 per cent higher than that of last year’s production.
Shan State remains a main problem to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) when its ASEAN Community takes effect in 2015. One agreement asks its members’ countries to be opium-free. (MCOT online news)