FARMERS in one of China's poorest provinces have been unable to cash money orders sent by relatives working in the booming coastal areas because the banking system has run out of funds. Guizhou's Sinan county post office, for example, received more than 12 million yuan (HK$16.19 million) in money orders in the first four months of the year, but, unable to call in loans, it managed to pay out only 5.29 million yuan, according to the China Information newspaper. Financial support from relatives working in southern coastal provinces has been crucial in supplementing the income of the rural poor in northern Guizhou, where average per capita earnings are less than 500 yuan a year. More than 42,000 young people left Sinan county last year alone to search for work along the south coast. The failure of local post offices to cash money orders has created additional hardships for the hill farmers of Sinan, already burdened by high taxes and the issuance of promissory notes or IOUs, instead of cash payments, for their crops. One farmer even committed suicide after failing to cash a 1,050-yuan money order he had sent home after working in Guangdong for about a year, the newspaper said. Yi Likun, 37, from a remote mountain village several kilometres from Sinan, had travelled to the post office more than 20 times over a two-month period to redeem his money, only to be told each time that there was no cash in the system. The newspaper said that on the day his three-month money order was due to expire, Yi had queued all morning behind 122 others before the post office ran out of money at noon. Unable to redeem his money, Yi killed himself by jumping into a deep ravine near his home. While Yi's actions might be extreme, rural economists said his plight was far from out of the ordinary. ''The failure of post offices to pay out money orders is symptomatic of the chaos in the financial sector as a whole,'' one Beijing-based economist said, ''and it will be long time before the situation improves.''