Agriculture remains the mainstay of national economic growth

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OUR country has a population of over 51 million, 70 per cent of whom lives in rural areas and is employed in the agriculture sector. The country is at a historic stage in its pursuit of a reform agenda that focuses on the welfare of the people by ensuring fundamental human rights. This pursuit must be conducted with the wellbeing of farmers in mind.
As Myanmar must chiefly rely on natural resources and agriculture for its economic growth, the improvement of farming methods is of critical importance in fighting poverty and fostering rural development. As part of helping the farming community, the government has adopted a loan policy. The new policy enables farmers to take out low-interest loans from the Myanma Economic Bank and the Myanma Agricultural Development Bank this year. The annual interest rate is set at 8 per cent. Bank loans vary from K150,000 (US$126) per acre of paddy to K20,000 (US$17) per acre for other crops.
Nonetheless, inadequate infrastructure, low technological know-how and limited access to electricity in rural areas still prove serious obstacles to the efforts of Myanmar’s government, stifling the country’s productivity.
Furthermore, instability resulting from armed conflict in border areas makes it hard for vulnerable residents, most of whom are members of ethnic minority communities, to find a way to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
According to a report by the United Nations Development Programme, poverty in rural areas and border areas is twice as high as in other areas. The government must adopt a systematic approach to resolving all of these challenges farmers are faced with in order to maximise the country’s economic growth and improve living standards of rural communities.

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