The agricultural sector is the lifeblood of Myanmar and is the first prioritized business of the country. Agriculture is the backbone of Myanmar’s economy and rice, pulses and beans are the country’s leading agricultural products. In Myanmar, agricultural sector accounts for over 37 per cent of the country’s GDP and employs about 70 per cent of the labour force. The agricultural sector plays an important role in reducing poverty rate in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s exported agricultural products worth US$ 3.3 billion to foreign countries between 1 October last year and 31 July in the current financial year, an increase of US$500 million against a year-ago period, according to the figures released by the Ministry of Commerce. Myanmar earned US$2.8 billion from agricultural products export in the first ten months of the financial year 2018-2019. In the country’s export sector, the agriculture industry accounted for almost 22 per cent of overall exports. The main items of export in the agricultural sector are rice and broken rice, beans and pulses and maize. Fruits and vegetables, sesame, dried tea leaves, sugar, and other agricultural products are also transported to other countries around the world. About 60 different types of crops are grown across the country.
Myanmar agricultural products are primarily transported to Thailand, China, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. However, the export market for the country’s agricultural products remains uncertain due to quality and unstable global demand. The country requires specific export plans for each agro product, as they are currently exported to external markets based upon supply and demand. Contract farming systems, the involvement of regional and state agriculture departments, exporters, traders, and some grower groups, are required to meet production targets. The ministry is trying utmost to help farmers deal with challenges such as high input costs, procurement of quality seeds, high cultivation costs, and erratic weather conditions.
Myanmar shipped over 1.15 million tons of beans and pulses to foreign markets from 1 October 2019 to early July in the current financial year 2019-2020, fetching US$730 million, according to the figure released by the ministry. The Southeast Asian country earns about US$800 million from exports of beans and pulses every year. Myanmar exported over 2.31 million tonnes of rice and broken rice as of July 31 this financial year 2019-2020. Myanmar freighted over 1.456 million tonnes of rice and 860,592 tonnes of broken rice, earning nearly US$700 million. Being an agricultural country, Myanmar exports a wide variety of agricultural products, ranging from rice, beans and pulses, sesame, sugarcane, onion, garlic, ginger and other kitchen crops to watermelons, bananas, mangoes, avocados, cucumbers, chili, and other profitable fruits and vegetables, and rubber.
The government launched the Agriculture Development Strategy and Investment Plan 2018-2023 in June 2018, which encourages good management, productivity and competitiveness in the sector. The plan aims to promote private sector interest and encourage farmers to improve the market access and information. To boost agricultural production, the country is tackling the challenges of erratic weather, capacity and technical know-how to produce value-added products and dependence on foreign market demand. The issue of high transportation costs, which cause problems in the supply chain, is also being addressed so as to keep up with the countries in the region. With rice, pulses, corn and rubber representing its major agricultural products, Myanmar is rich in land and water resources and has a favorable climate for agriculture and livestock production.
Myanmar received over US$2.93 billion from agricultural products export in the financial year 2016-17, up by US$315 million year-on-year, the ministry’s data showed. The Southeast Asian country exported agricultural products worth US$2.8 billion in the financial year 2017-2018. Myanmar’s income from export of agricultural goods in the financial year 2018- 2019 were valued at US$2.45 billion, an increase of US$260 million compared with the same period of last financial year.