Improving our farmers’ livelihoods will strengthen our economy

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  • It is an undeniable truth that farmers play a critical role in Myanmar, a chiefly agricultural country. Successive governments have routinely strived to improve farmers’ livelihoods, often with moderate to good success. As the majority of a farmer’s life is intertwined with agriculture, it only makes sense that we focus on development of the agricultural sector to make a positive impact on the lives of Myanmar’s farmers, who make up 70 per cent of our labour force.
    To empower our growers, we must protect their rights and increase the economic benefits they can derive from the agricultural sector. They must be aided through the entire process — from planting crops to selling products in the market. Inattention to our farmers’ wellbeing risks jeopardizing the nation’s economy, as the agricultural sector accounts for 37.8 per cent of the country’s GDP, and generates 25 to 30 per cent of our total export earnings.
    Common sense indicates that farmlands are the most integral resource for farmers, but the past decades have seen confiscation and misappropriation of farmlands, which has led to severe consequences in the agricultural sector. Fortunately, the recent administrations of the country have worked vigorously towards returning confiscated farmlands and promoting the interests of farmers.
    In 2013, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw enacted the Law of Protection of the Farmer Rights and Enhancement of their Benefits, which has been implemented by the leading body established by that law, and various other working bodies, for providing suitable loans and assistance to farmers, managing technology, input and production facilities, assisting in maintaining a reasonable foothold in the market economy, and helping them cover losses caused by natural disasters.
    Furthermore, the government is facilitating methods for farmers to either use their farmlands for other purposes or plant other crops, without harming the production of rice, the staple of the country and the powerhouse of our agricultural exports.
    Farmers also need to be careful not to use their farmlands for other purposes without official permission, as it can dampen the government’s efforts to help them in acquiring the rights to use their farmlands for other business models that yield additional income.
    We must inform farmers of the government’s efforts to improve their livelihoods, secure their trust and cooperation, and ensure that they understand the significance of adhering to the existing laws to increase their benefits and simultaneously, develop the economy of the nation.
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