By July Moe (Myanma Alinn)
Agriculture is key to Myanmar’s economic development as her economy is based on farming. The agriculture sector contributes 25 % to GDP yearly with 18.9 per cent from paddy farming and 8.2 per cent from livestock breeding and fisheries.
During the second year in office of the incumbent government, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation introduced modern farming method in the interest of farmers and this proved to be more cost effective in terms of agricultural inputs including seeds.
Its efforts for farmers also include disseminating agricultural knowledge to farmers, growing crops in time, mitigating loss and wastage, transforming farming into mechanized agriculture, etc.
To turn these goals into action, the ministry actively cooperates with experts within and without the country, development partners, investors and especially with farmers.
As land use, availability of water for agriculture purpose, capital investment, applying machineries, practicing cooperative system, rural development, research and development, value-added production, market expansion, human resource development and environmental conservation are essential for agriculture development, the ministry has laid down work plan in the respective fields.
Climate change causes crop damage yearly in Myanmar and thus the Agriculture Research Department has developed 25 hybrid strains which are climate-resilient crops suitable to the soil of the nation.
Another factor important for agricultural development is water. As Global warming is already having significant and costly effects on our planet, farmers face water scarcity yearly. In some areas, there exist limitations to get natural water. To overcome these difficulties, ‘alternate wetting and drying’ (AWD) method is used which is a water management technique, practiced to cultivate irrigated lowland rice with much less water than the usual system of maintaining continuous standing water in the crop field.
It is a method of controlled and intermittent irrigation. A periodic drying and re-flooding irrigation scheduling approach is followed in which the fields are allowed to dry for few days before re-irrigation, without stressing the plants.
This method reduces water demand for irrigation and greenhouse gas emissions without reducing crop yields. To irrigate vegetable crops, such water saving methods as sprinklers and drip irrigation systems are applied.
As a result of these undertakings, water harvesting technique has been developed which can control soil moisture by 15 to 25 per cent.
In the field of plant cell biology, plant tissue culture techniques are applied to cultivate plants which are similar to parental stock, conserve rare species, track to crop genetic applying microbiology and study plant biology which will contribute to high yield of crops.
To increase sources for water supply, various kinds of water supply facilities have been built during the second year in office of the government. Thanks to these efforts, 1.324 million acres were benefited from the water supply facilities including dams, reservoirs, lakes and river water pumping projects benefiting people living in Mandalay, Magway, Bago, Yangon and Ayeyawady regions and Chin, Rakhine, Kayah and Kayin states. As a result, paddy cultivation breaks the 70-year-record. In addition to this achievement, dwellers of Mandalay and Magway regions enjoy electricity produced from the irrigation facilities.
To penetrate into foreign markets, the Agriculture Department offers Good Agriculture Practice -GAP training to farmers. As rice is the main staple in Myanmar, it cultivated paddy on 17.695 acres of land as summer and monsoon paddy in 2016-2017 Fiscal Year yielding 1,327.23 million baskets. Among them, 1.747 million metric tons were exported. The figure doubled in 2017-2018 FY with exporting 3.518 million metric ton up to March 2018.
The rice forum was organized by Myanmar Rice Federation with the aim of developing paddy sector. A significant achievement during the second year in office of the government is setting the price of paddy at a floor price with 500,000 kyat for one hundred baskets. This helps benefit farmers more than ever.
To produce paddy seeds of pure stock, monsoon paddy was put on 69734 acres with the cooperation among seeds producing organizations, government, and farmers. As a result, in 2017-2018 FY, 2,279,559 baskets of paddy seed reached into the hands of farmers.
Agricultural Extension Development Centre was opened on 14th November 2017 to provided agricultural knowledge to farmers. Over 500 trainees got trainings from the centre.
During the two-year period, a call center was established on 1st March 2017 to disseminate knowledge to farmers. Moreover Post Harvest Research Institute was also established in Nay Pyi Taw contributing to successful growing of sugarcane.
In addition to growing of paddy as a main food, Myanmar is a country of growing such edible oil plant as peanut, sesame, sunflower and varieties of pea; such kitchen crops as various kinds of vegetables; and such perennial crops as mango, rubber and coffee.
The ministry is also striving for development of silk, cotton and rubber production. To produce skilled lobour in rubber production work, norms and curriculum were drawn with the help of National Skill Standard Authority.
Today, youth who have been engaged in paddy works are searching green pastures in urban areas or going abroad for their better future. As a result the strength of workforce in agriculture sector decrease facing bad consequences as rising in wages, failing to cultivate in time, increasing in losses and wastage and decreasing in production.
To overcome these agriculture skill shortages, Agricultural Mechanization Department is focusing on increasing the use of farm machineries. Success was achieved in providing farmers with farm machineries of their wish just initial payment of 10 per cent for it.
With three-year installment, tractors, harvesters, power tillers were sold out to farmers. Moreover, mechanic courses are conducted for 85,323 farmers up to the end of February 2018. Research works are carried out to produce weeding machine, seeding machine, potato harvester and nursery seeding machine.
For ensuring effective use of land nearly 600,000 farmers were granted work permits to cultivate on 2,4860,000 acres of farmland and virgin and vacant land. Permission was also granted to 562 people who applied for carrying out farming and livestock breeding works on 11,180,000 acres are land.
Altogether 119 Ground Control Points were erected to produce correct maps. Altogether 99 total stations were distributed all regions and states.
As Myanmar sits on the land with 3,000 kilometers long coastal, arrangements have been made for systematic development of inshore and offshore fishing and not to waste fishery resources in accord with prescribed laws.
In 2017-2018 FY, altogether 56,8227 metric tons of fish were exported up to March 2018 earning USD 711.717 million. This is also the record-breaking in 20 years. National Residue Monitoring Plan is under implementation to export fish and prawns to EU countries. Currently, Myanmar follows the rules of Decree 135 issued by Chinese AQSIQ.
To conserve sea tortoise, Myanmar won Site Network Certificate and ISO Certificate for Thameehla Island.
Animal census was taken in January this year in 275 townships out of 330. Data are compiled thoroughly in that matter.
Agricultural loans were disbursed to farmers yearly with the rate of 100,000 kyat for one acre of paddy, 150,000 for sugarcane, and 50,000 for other crops. Moreover, small business loans and loans for buying farm machineries with installment were disbursed.
Microfinance business conducted by the cooperatives disbursed 586.542 billion kyat to over 2.5 million members in 291 townships in 15 regions and states.
19,353.247 million kyat was spent on land preparation to transform the agriculture into mechanized one.
In addition to the above-mentioned achievements, the ministry could bring electricity to 4,072 villages, build 32,560 public facilities including schools and clinics.
People Centred Projects have been implemented 47 townships which benefits 7.1 million people. The tasks are expanded to other 16 townships.
Mya Sein Yaung project is the effort made by Rural Development Department. It met success ever than before, with more requests for it by villages in states and regions. Under the project, 271.4 billion kyat was disbursed to villagers in 9,895 villages. With the interests received from this projects, 42/6 miles of road in 162 villages were built, 20 water and 41 electricity supply works carried out, five health 14 education facilities built and 30 other development tasks undertaken.
Yezin Agricultural University and Veterinary Science University produced degree holders, master and doctorate degree holders.
YAU changed its teaching methods from teacher centered to student centered pattern. The university in cooperation with JICA, India’s IARI, established ACARE. Research works are also carried out with Australian’s ACIAR.
Private sector plays a pivotal role in development of Myanmar agricultural chain. The ministry invited investment at home and abroad.
The ministry vows to promote the agriculture which is directly related to farmers hand in hand with the economists, agriculture experts and foreign countries.
(Translated By Wallace)