Angry farmers are gearing up for a court battle with a corporation that wants to plant teak on land they say belongs to them.

The Kaung Myanmar Aung company says it was granted government permission to cultivate the 960-hectare (2400-acre) plot at Nagar Mauk village, Taungoo township, Bago Region.

The company, owned by U Khin Maung Aye, says it signed a 30-year contract with the Settlement and Land Records Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation in 2009.

U Saw Maung, deputy general manager of KMA, said at first farmers agreed to yield the land, but later changed their minds, opposing the company’s plan to collaborate with Asia World Group to plant teak.

At a press conference at Taungoo’s Myanmar Medical Association Hall on December 4, Myanmar Farmers’ Development Party head U Kyaw Soe Moe said, “Some of the land is owned by farmers and we will try to negotiate with KMA regarding all of the land.”

He said about 360 farmers, who owned about 3273 acres, had accepted KMA’s terms to plant teak.

“But if some farmers don’t accept the KMA deal, we will ask U Khin Maung Aye to plant only on the land of farmers who do agree,” he said.

Farmers said some of the land was under cultivation, some was occupied by gardens, and some was uncultivated. Farmer U Yan Aung, said, “I planted sugar cane, but KMA chopped it down. They promised me compensation of K50,000 an acre, but they’ve given me nothing.”

Another farmer, Ma Cho Cho, accused the company of miscalculating the area of the land. “They measured it wrong, and they didn’t pay all the compensation,” she said, adding that many farmers felt aggrieved.

“We’ve been meeting with them since 2009 and not planted anything, but received not 1 kyat in compensation,” she said. U Saw Maung of KMA said, “Our company was granted permission to plant teak on the uncultivated land in 2009. When we started to prepare the land, some farmers came out and said they owned it.”

The company has reached an agreement with farmers on the following points, he said, “We will return any land already planted with fruit. On all their land except for the gardens, they must plant teak or allow us to plant, or we will compensate them. If they refuse to plant teak or accept compensation, we will take the matter to court.”

http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/business/18043-farmers-protest-kma-group-project-in-taungoo.html