Drug Eradication in Kachin State through Substitute Production


Yesterday, on May 3rd, 2018, we successfully held a workshop at the M2 de Bangkok hotel on the topic of Drug Eradication in Kachin State through Substitute Production. The workshop was based on the research of Mr. James Lomethong, who is a doctoral candidate at the School of Management, Shinawatra University, under my supervision.

After I provided a basic overview of the research project and its significance, JAmes himself spoke about his experiences. He was followed by Mr. Xuwichai Hiranpruek, who has extensive knowledge of drug eradication in the Meoong Region and has been active in that subject since the 1980s. Subsequently, we heard from Major Aung, who has had experience in fighting drugs for both Myanmar’s army and police. After this, we heard from Mr. Zaw Ban, an entrepreneur (and former MBA student of Shinawatra University) who has begun growing and marketing inca inchi nuts, which are the product James has identified as being a potentially suitable substitute product. There was also a contribution from K Khunsawat (Tony) Somanuksawat, who has a large amount of land cultivating nuts in the Chiang Mai area and is central to the development of the sector. Finally, we heard from K Paisal Sae Lor, from Bangkok Toastmasters, which is an organization with which James has been associated for a number of years.

Major Aung, who has served with Myanmar’s army and police with respect to drug eradication, speaks about his experiences.

Mr. Xuwichai Hiranpruek, who has extensive knowledge and experience of drug eradication and substitute production, shares his understanding.

We focused on the problems of bringing farmers and potential substitute products in contact with markets through connectivity, better infrastructure and market development. As long as it is economically beneficially to grow opium compared to other crops, farmers will continue to do so, no matter how many interventions by the state are made.

In terms of James’ research, we divided the main findings into the following main themes, through content analysis:

  • Everyday experiences of drugs
  • Personal experiences
  • Institutional failures
  • The perspective of the authorities
  • Rehabilitation
  • Gender aspects of drugs production and trade
  • The Hmong and Cabbages
  • Drugs in Nagaland

Please feel free to contact me by email (jcwalsh@siu.ac.th) for further details.


Management of Drug Eradication Schemes in Myanmar

Lomethong, Jen and John Walsh, “Management of Drug Eradication Schemes in Myanmar,” International Review of Management and Development Studies, Vol.1, No.3 (2017), pp.29-39, available at: http://crcltd.org/images/Management_of_Drug_Eradication_Schemes_in_Myanmar.PDF.

Nation-Building and the Management of Drug Eradication Schemes in Myanmar


Lomethong, Jen and John Walsh, “Nation-Building and the Management of Drug Eradication Schemes in Myanmar,” paper presented at the International Conference on Nation-Building 2017 (May 28th-30th, 2017, Bangkok).


Opium production and consumption has been known to be a problem in Myanmar since at least 1750. Production of opium was 36 tons in 1948 but that rose to 2,500 tons in 1996, owing to market conditions and the lack of alternatives to farmers searching for cash crops and for ethnic groups mounting insurgencies. Various drug eradication programmes have been tried in the country, often in conjunction with international partners but these have been of limited success because the military government was unwilling to allow access to many parts of the country to observers and, indeed, some parts of the country were not available even to the military government. In addition, local warlords had patronage networks which extended into government circles and caused divided loyalties among at least some of those people charged with eradication. This paper explores the existence and performance of drug eradication schemes in contemporary Myanmar and then argues that none is likely to be successful until steps are taken to raise confidence in peace and stability among all important stakeholders. This, in turn, can only be achieved with nation-building initiatives. It is recognised that the current political settlement is fragile and it is not impossible that democracy will be lost again. The example of the Rohingya refugees and the recent outbreaks of ethnic violence in urban Myanmar show the limits of state institutions and technical capacity in this regard.
Keywords: drug eradication, Myanmar, nation-building, state capacity