TGCC Assessment: Land Use and Tenure Assessment of Yway Gone Village Tract, Minhla Township

The key points emerging from the land use and tenure assessment in Yway Gone Village Tract include:

  1. There is very poor infrastructure provision (roads, electricity, irrigation) in all four villages. The village with the best road access (Bant Bway Gone) is considered the most affluent village among the four.
  2. All four villages have long settlement histories ranging from 100 to 200 years. Three of the four villages are completely Bamar while the Kayin village has had a recent influx of landless Bamar families interested in better access to reserve forests. In general, there is no significant pattern of seasonal outmigration although a few families engage in such activities. As access to forests is curtailed, however, the poorer households will start to consider such exit options.
  3. The land market is not particularly dynamic with limited growth in prices in recent years.
  4. There is a significant level of landlessness especially among the three Bamar villages. This is a typical pattern for Bago Region.
  5. All villages with pre-existing kwin maps for paddy lands have already obtained their land use certificates (LUCs). This was carried out smoothly through the initiative of the village tract administrator who submitted the Form 7 applications for families with paddy land on a collective basis. The 500 kyat fee per application was consistent across all villages, and the processing period was roughly six months. In all cases, the LUCs did not include garden lands. Garden lands can only be identified on the basis of tax receipts paid annually to the Department of Agricultural Land Management and Statistics (DoALMS). Tax on paddy land is very low ranging from one to two kyats per acre; this rate has been unchanged since British colonial times.
  6. Villagers are not aware, except on the basis of landmarks, about the boundary demarcations of their villages or the village tract boundary. They assume that DoALMS has a record of the village tract boundaries as well as paddy land boundaries. There are no significant conflicts between villagers over paddy land boundaries, or between villages.
  7. There is a very low level of awareness and knowledge of lands pertaining to land and forest rights. As such, most villagers were unaware of the existence of the 2012 Farmland Law, 2012 Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management (VFVLM) Law, 2012 Association Law, or the draft National Land Use Policy. The male heads of households knew the contents of their LUCs but women had seldom seen these certificates.
  8. There is limited formal collaboration between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) and DoALMS in the allocation and management of lands (reserve forests or unclassified forests). With the roll-out of the community forestry in 2017, such collaborations will likely begin.
  9. The common problem facing all four villages is the allocation of forestlands (reserve or unclassified) to contractors through plantation permits. In all cases, this was carried out with no consultation or compensation for villagers. Villagers were also not offered the opportunity to apply for such 30-year permits. The impact on household subsistence practices, while diverse in nature depending on the level of secure rights to paddy land, were experienced by all households. In one village, it was estimated that household income dropped by one-third among landed households and by two-thirds in landless households. Women, in particular, have been negatively impacted because they utilize forestlands to grow cash crops that support household expenditures. There remains, however, a poor understanding of the multiple ways in which villagers rely on forestlands to meet the range of household needs over an annual cycle as well as impact on household income.
  10. There is weak knowledge about the condition of the forests. Large-scale deforestation occurred from the late 1980s onwards. Since then, various cycles of greening forests have taken place but a detailed understanding of the forests near villages remains poor.
  11. There is substantial interest among both male and female villagers in developing commercial opportunities both in agricultural and forest sectors. Some women in specific villages have established rotating savings-and-loans programs. Once LUCs are obtained, it is fairly easy to secure bank loans.
  12. There has been no experience with land use planning in any villages or among the government agencies.