There are several basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter which are of crucial importance for the survival of human beings. Among them, food is regarded as one of the indispensible elements in our lives, thus we should strive to produce food in sufficient quantities in order to meet these needs. Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations, goal 2 states that we should end hunger and all forms of malnutrition around the world. We are all duty bound to achieve food security and improve nutrition while promoting sustainable agricultural productivity in the country. Moreover we all know that goal 12 ensures sustainable consumption and production patterns. As for nations and international organizations, efforts are being made to go hand-in-hand with strategies that can improve and achieve the SDG goals. It is found that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working with the government and other international communities to reach the achievement of the sustainable development goals.
World Food Day
World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honour of the date of the founding of the FAO of the United Nations. The day is widely celebrated by many countries around the world. The World Food Day’s theme for 2018 is “Our Actions are our Future: A#Zeo Hunger world by 2030 is possible” which focuses on the importance of good nutrition for a healthy nation.
It is heartening to learn that the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has made a commitment to develop the socio-economic conditions of the country while exporting surplus agricultural commodities. Every citizen is duty bound to take part in the process because the sectors of agriculture and breeding of livestock have made great contribution to the basic requirements for us all. According to the data conducted in 2015, it was estimated that about 795 million people were suffering from chronic undernourishment globally while the Asia Pacific region still has 490 million people who had to face the shortcomings of food security. The projections show that feeding a world population in 2050 would require raising overall food production by some 70 per cent.
Conditions in Myanmar
According to the Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2015-2016, anemia was found to be prevalent in some 76.4 per cent of children from 6 months to one year old and 74.8 per cent of children from one year to two years old, malnutrition was prevalent in 29.2 per cent of children aged under five and seven per cent of children under five were wasted, 18.9 per cent of children were moderately underweight and 16 per cent of children aged from six months to two years were receiving the Minimum Acceptable Diet _ MAD. That’s why we should make concerted efforts to boost doubling agricultural productivity and livestock breeding. In accordance with this year’s theme of FAO, we ought to strive to work together for a future that can ensure easy access to safe, healthy and nutritious food and to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle that can change the world for the better.
Agricultural Sector in Myanmar
Although commodity prices such as vegetables and fruit have risen slightly in Myanmar, the country is in a position to achieve a balanced diet. Myanmar has exported various types of beans that have been fully sufficient for the domestic market. Myanmar’s beans and pulses constitute an important sector for the country’s economic development. Myanmar is self-sufficient in rice production and the country, as a whole, is in surplus of rice and self-sufficiency rate that is estimated to be about 168 per cent. According to the rice sufficiency data, it is found that there are 66 per cent in Mandalay Region, 98 per cent in Magway Region and 66 per cent in Chin State. Rice is the main staple food of Myanmar and there are some 17.282 million acres of paddy fields that have been cultivated in the 2017-2018 fiscal year. In this year, rice production has amounted to 3.518 million metric tons which is the highest record in 70 years, thanks to good water utilization management, use of machinery to innovate agricultural modernization, alternative Pest Control Methods for Agricultural Use, amendment of National Land Use Law, increasing cooperative societies for seed production, financial support for agricultural sector, supply chain financing and nurturing.
Moreover nine new types of rice species have been nurtured for generations by farmers throughout the country, aiming to promote Myanmar’s rice sector through the cultivation of high quality rice that can enhance the living standards of the local farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has made efforts to support technical assistances to cultivate rice, plant oil, ground nuts, sesame, tea leaf, mango, rubber and coffee.
Fisheries play a vital role in the culture and economy of Myanmar, and fish is second only to rice in the Myanmar diet. Fishery sector serves as a major source of protein of the people who largely consume rice and curry as staple food. Myanmar has exported over 570,000 metric tons of fishery products, valued at $ 711.717 million between 2017-2018 fiscal year, hitting a 20-year record high. In the sector of livestock breeding, efforts are being made to adopt advanced farming technologies to enhance the fishery export sector. According to the data, there are a number of 16.6 million cows, 3.6 million buffaloes, 8.8 million sheep and goats, 319 million chickens and 29 million ducks that were bred in the country. Accordingly, Myanmar is implementing a program to export one million cattle every year, aiming to increase private investment and competition in the livestock breeding sector.
With the creation of employment opportunities, cooperation is of vital importance to promote agriculture and livestock breeding sectors aiming to face challenges and priority actions along a path towards Zero Hunger by 2030, making sure all people – especially children – have easy access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. This involves promoting sustainable agricultural practices: supporting small scale farmers and allowing equal access to land, technology and markets. It also requires international cooperation to ensure investment in infrastructure and technology to improve agricultural productivity.
The effectiveness of triple cooperation between the cultivators, business persons and the government is of paramount importance to ensure investment is put into infrastructure that can improve the overall agricultural productivity in Myanmar.
Translated by Win Ko Ko Aung