Thura Zaw, Mi Mi Phyo (Myanmar News Agency)
Controversial proposed amendments to Myanmar’s Farmland Law were debated by at least 20 parliamentarians during yesterday’s meeting of the Amyotha Hluttaw in Nay Pyi Taw.
The debate focused on the rights of landowners to sell or lease land to foreigners without state approval.
Parliament members argued for and against regulations on farmland sales and leases.
Some legislators argued that easing restrictions on agricultural lands would open one of Myanmar’s largest economic sectors, and its largest employer, to greater foreign investment. Myanmar agriculture lags behind many of its neighbours in the region due to the lack of agricultural inputs including fertilizers, pesticides, seed productions, farming machinery, storage facilities, food processing and packaging facilities, quality testing facilities and training across agricultural supply chains.
Other legislators argued that Myanmar should continue to restrict foreign investment in agriculture.
“Foreigners hired land for a one-year contract to grow watermelon in Mandalay and Sagaing regions,” said MP U Hla San. “But, the soil was degraded after one year due to their overuse of fertilizer.”
Amyotha Hluttaw Speaker announced that the discussion of the MPs will be reviewed at the bill committee.
Other matters discussed at the Amyotha Hluttaw included plans to open a technical training school in Loikaw in Kayah State in FY2018-2019.
Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kyaw announced a plan to increase the number and width of sluice gates in dams and dikes to mitigate rising water levels. The Deputy Minister said some sluice gates on some dams and dikes were not adequately maintained due to a lack of funds.
The next regular Amyotha Hluttaw session is scheduled for 2 August.