Yuzana agricultural concession in Hukawng Valley, Kachin state, Myanmar

Powerful actors behind this 81,000ha biofuels crop concession. Kachin groups resist the plantation development , demanding a return of their croplands and the protection of a very large tiger reserve.


Description

The development of the massive Yuzana Co. agricultural concession within territories of ethnic Kachin communities have caused a bitter struggle against land grabbing, as the civil society organization Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) has reported for more than a decade [1]. The 200,000 acres (81,000ha) “agricultural development zone” concession was granted by Senior General Than Shwe in 2006 to the Yuzana company, which is among the biggest Burmese companies (see project details). The formal purpose of the concession was to develop biofuel crops (cassava, jatropha and sugarcane) to feed the Chinese biofuels markets [2]. It is in an area where locals lived and relied on subsistence agriculture and forest products for decades before the concession arrived. The area is also incredibly rich in biodiversity and inhabits globally threatened species such as the Panthera tigris. 

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Basic Data
Name Yuzana agricultural concession in Hukawng Valley, Kachin state, Myanmar
CountryMyanmar
ProvinceKachin state
SiteHugawng valley, between Danai and Hpakant townships
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Deforestation
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific CommoditiesLand
Cassava
Timber
Jatropha
Sugar
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Hugawng Valley was declared a tiger reserve by the Myanmar Government in 2001, supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The reserve was extended to 21,890 km2 in 2004, making it the world’s largest tiger reserve. Around 50,000 people have been leaving in the valley, the majority of which being of Kachin ethnicity [1].

The Yuzana company was founded in 1995 by U Htay Myint, a real estate tycoon well connected to the military. The tycoon was banned by the European Union and sanctioned by the United States for his connections with the military junta [1].

The company was awarded a 200,000 acres (ca. 81,000 ha) concession for cassava, sugarcane and jatropha production in 2006 [1].

About 14 villages are located within the concession area – seven in the middle project area, and seven within the project expansion area. The 7 seven villages in the middle project area had an estimated population of 5,000 people, comprised of different groups of the Kachin ethnicity [1].

According to a petition from May 2016 [5], the following villages were severely affected by land grabbing through the company: Naungmee, Shuduzut, Bankok, Wahyazut, Nansai, Aungyar, Lajarpa villages within Phakant Township and Shinanpyat, Tainkauk, Naunglonkaung villages within Tanine Township.
Project Area (in hectares)81,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationat least 8,600
Start Date2006
Company Names or State EnterprisesYuzana Co. Ltd. from Myanmar - operating company
Relevant government actorsSenior General Than Shwe
International and Financial InstitutionsWildlife Conservation Society (WCS) from United States of America
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersHugawng Valley Farmer Social Committee

Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Kachin ethnic groups
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Blockades
Land occupation
Refusal of compensation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Prayer meetings
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Migration/displacement
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project goes on.
Sources and Materials
References

[1] KDNG 2010. Tyrants, Tycoons and Tigers: Yuzana Company Ravages Burma’s Hugawng Valley. Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) (accessed online 13.03.2018)
[click to view]

[2] Woods, K., 2011. Ceasefire capitalism: Military-private partnerships, resource concessions and military-state building in the Burma-China borderlands. J. Peasant Stud. 38, 747–770.
[click to view]

[4] Papworth, S., Rao, M., Oo, M.M., Latt, K.T., Tizard, R., Pienkowski, T., Carrasco, L.R., 2017. The impact of gold mining and agricultural concessions on the tree cover and local communities in northern Myanmar. Science Reports. 7, 1–11.
[click to view]

Links

[6] Kachinnews online article, 25 January 2011. Burmese Army stockpiles weapons in Yuzana Company, Hukawng Valley. (accessed online 13.03.2018)
[click to view]

[3] Word Rainforest Movement, 2010. Burma: Farmers fight plantation company threatening protected forests and tiger reserve in Hugawng Valley. Boletin 159. (accessed online 13.03.2018)
[click to view]

[5] Open letter to the president, from 10 May 2016: Request for returning the lands confiscated by Yuzana Company in Hugawng. Signed by Hu Khaung Local Farmers (8603). (accessed online 13.03.2018)
[click to view]

Media Links

Youtube video, published by Kachin Development Networking Group: Hugawng Tiger Reserve.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Concession area Source: KDNG report [1]. See http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs09/TyrantsTycoonsandTigers.pdf
[click to view]

Evicted villagers left with nothing Source: KDNG report [1]. See http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs09/TyrantsTycoonsandTigers.pdf
[click to view]

Villagers' homes set on fire Source: KDNG report [1]. See http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs09/TyrantsTycoonsandTigers.pdf
[click to view]

Yuzana factory in 2010
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update19/03/2018
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