Agriculture has potential to spur growth and reduce poverty


[dropcap font=”0″][/dropcap]Myanmar is an agricultural country, with 70% of its population living in rural areas, most of whom are farmers depending on farming for food, income and jobs.
With the government having promised to bring down the country’s poverty index to 16% in 2015, the best way to help lift farmers out of the vicious cycle of poverty is to improve agricultural performance.
It is generally accepted that agricultural development can drive economic growth as it can raise incomes, improve food security and boost shared prosperity. Globally, the agricultural sector is still regarded as indispensable in this age for economic growth and feeding a population that is expected to hit 9 billion by 2050.
For farmers to enjoy greater yields and profits, soil health is of utmost importance. Agriculturalists have advocated that healthy soils provide a variety of vital ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, water regulation, flood prevention, and habitats for biodiversity. In other words, healthy soil is fundamental to food security, ecosystems and life.
It should be noted that overuse and cultivation of unsuitable land can trigger poor soil conditions, thereby depleting soil resources, causing land degradation and accelerating soil erosion. All of these problems can lead to increases in greenhouse gas emission. According to a Climate-Smart Agriculture report, soil erosion releases nearly 1.2 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere each year.
Although good agricultural practices can generate private and public benefits, farmers find it difficult to afford the expenditure involved in land management practices and technologies.
Without the intensive and extensive support by the government, farmers will not be able to adopt improved agricultural practices that can sustain the use of soil resources. With this end in view, the government should commit itself to boosting agriculture and agriculture-related investment.
In fact, helping farmers amounts to saving the soil and sustaining life.

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