By Kyaw Kha for The Irrawaddy. PEKHON TOWNSHIP, Shan State — Selling “change” to voters leading up to Burma’s Nov. 8 election, the campaign of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has reached deep into the heart of opium poppy-growing country in southern Shan State, where the plant’s sticky resin is also known as “black gold.”

For farmers here, it is hoped that this will mean a more concerted effort by the incoming government to introduce alternative sources of income to replace poppy growing, which fuels the heroin trade across much of the region.

“As [NLD chairwoman] Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has said, ‘It is time for change.’ We also want to change. We no longer want to grow poppy. But there is the question of how?” said a 60-year-old poppy grower in Pekhon Township, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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