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Castor oil projects fail in Arakan

A government castor oil project, known as the General Than Shwe project to locals, has failed in Arakan State after many trees died from neglect,...

A government castor oil project, known as the General Than Shwe project to locals, has failed in Arakan State after many trees died from neglect, said a farmer from Kyauktaw.

"You can see many signboards in the castor oil gardens along the Sittwe - Rangoon highway, but the gardens have not succeeded. Now the only thing remaining is the signboards," he said.

Along the Sittwe - Rangoon highway, the army authorities had many castor oil plantations after confiscating acres of land from local Arakanese farmers, but all the plantations have fallen to ruin due to many obstacles.

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"We were forced by the Burmese Army to cultivate castor oil trees near our villages. So we planted the trees in many vacant places near our village. The authorities were engrossed in the plantations at the beginning of the project, but one year later they are neglecting it. So now all the projects have failed in our state," the farmer said.

Local army authorities have been unable to look after the gardens full time, and have been unable to force people to do all the work in the gardens. Many castor oil gardens are ruined due to lack of workers for the plantations, a source said.

According to a source, the army authorities have collected some husks from the castor oil gardens in Sittwe Township, but there is no mill to process them and produce oil. The army used some small, local, private oil mills to produce the castor oil, but this work is not done regularly by the private mills.

The state-run newspapers have published many stories about the castor oil projects in Burma but there has been no news about the castor oil projects in Burma recently because the projects remain unsuccessful throughout Burma after five years.

The junta propagated to the people that it would produce bio-fuel in Burma in the future from castor oil plantations to develop the country. Because of this directive to produce castor oil, local authorities implemented the castor oil projects throughout the country.