Printer friendly version

ID: 1027

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Community Mobilisation and Organising; Drug Policy Reform and Advocacy

Presenting author: Sai Lone

Presenting author biography:

Sai Lone is an indigenous people from Shan State, Myanmar. He has been working with opium poppy farmers as a development worker for more than 20 years. He is one of the founders and currently works as the coordinator for Myanmar Opium Farmers' Forum.

Empowering marginalized communities: hearing the voice of Myanmar opium farmers’in the drug policy debate

Sai Lone


Poor and subsistence poppy farmers in Myanmar are facing forced eradication without any viable livelihoods alternatives. The destruction of their crops deprived them the main source of income, while the root causes of poppy cultivation – food insecurity and poverty – are not addressed.

The creation of Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum (MOFF) aims at empowering marginalized poppy farmers and ensure their voices are heard in the drug policy debate.


Poppy cultivation is mostly concentrated in remote mountainous regions of northeastern Myanmar. Ethnic minorities living in those regions have long been suffering armed-conflict and oppressed by the central Government.

Key arguments

MOFF started in 2013. Annually, representatives of poppy farmers come together sharing their experiences and difficulties, such as forced eradication and informal taxation. Public statements, containing recommendations for policy makers, are released at the end of each forum.

MOFF engages with other stakeholders. In January 2016, 9 representatives of poppy farmers attended the global forum of Producers of Plants Prohibited that took place in the Netherlands. MOFF is a full member of Myanmar Drug Policy Advocacy Group, a network of organizations advocating for alternative drug policies.

Outcomes and implications

 In September 2015, 4 poppy farmer representatives were invited, for the very first time in Myanmar, to attend high-level policy discussion in the country’s capital Nay Pyi Taw.

 In April 2016, the Coordinator of MOFF attended the UNGASS-2016 in New York. The forum’s last public statement was read at one of the panel sessions, in front of several heads of States.

 Representatives from MOFF are regularly invited to speak at public events and interviewed by journalists. The difficulties faced by their communities – such as chronic poverty and food insecurity - are slowly, but increasingly, being recognized by the public opinion, government and drug control agencies.