sustainable agriculture in MyanmarIn 2015, the FAO recognized Myanmar as one of 72 countries that cut its population of people suffering from hunger in half, one of the Millennium Development Goals set by the U.N. The agriculture industry in Myanmar accounts for a majority of the country’s income and is its largest source of employment, so it makes sense that there are dozens of opportunities for growth in sustainable agriculture in Myanmar.

The potential for Myanmar’s agriculture to improve is strong. Though the country has one of the lowest yields in Southeast Asia, Myanmar also has some of the lowest labor costs. In order to capitalize on the opportunities provided by the current economic climate, Myanmar’s government has created a set of agricultural policies to “establish a peaceful, modern and developed country.” The 12 policies focus on furthering development, protecting and educating farmers and reducing poverty through the agriculture industry.

Sustainable agriculture in Myanmar is pioneered by a large population of small-scale rural farmers. Approximately 70 percent of the country’s population depends on agriculture for food and income, and the government is making an effort to support this population through The Law of Protection of the Farmer Rights and Enhancement of their Benefits. The law was enacted in 2013 and a Leading Body was appointed to assist Burmese farmers and enforce the regulations under the law. The Leading Body is in charge of giving loans, ensuring that farmers get reasonable payment for their products and importing technology, fertilizers, seeds, pesticides and other necessary provisions.

At this time, Myanmar’s biggest agricultural export is rice. According to the Ministry of Commerce, the demand for rice produced in Myanmar is the highest it has been in 50 years. However, other major rice exporters in Southeast Asia—such as Thailand and Cambodia—are taking advantage of the rising demand for high-quality rice. Myanmar has previously capitalized on exporting to low-quality markets and thus has a history of outputting low-quality products. Going forward, sustainable agriculture in Myanmar will only continue to improve if the quality of the industry’s products improves. As the industry evolves, new strains of higher-quality rice and other cereals are slowly being introduced to Burmese farms.

Many opportunities are arising to continue the development of sustainable agriculture in Myanmar. As working conditions improve and the industry grows, Myanmar’s residents are looking at an improvement of the country’s overall economic wellness.

– Anna Sheps

Photo: Flickr

USAID Supports Rice Farmers in Botanga

USAID is leading a project in Botanga that has significantly improved the country’s agriculture sector by aiding rice farmers. The program, The Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) works by partnering large marketing companies and produce buyers with small rice farmers to expand rice varieties to meet consumer demand.

Since the program’s implementation two years ago, Botanga’s rice production has vastly increased and over 600 farmers have participated in ADVANCE. The Chairman of the Botanga Farmers Association, Mr. Sule Alhassan, boasts higher rice yields, improved harvesting techniques and few losses after rice harvests.

Some of the ways ADVANCE has improved farming strategies is by introducing rice nurseries and increased spacing between rice plants to increase yields. The project has also helped farmers by providing assistance with pest control and diseases.

This project has been important in combating hunger in Botanga and is a successful model for other countries to adapt. By taking the approach of marketing, farmers are able to grow rice based on what is in demand that season. This not only ensures economic growth in the agriculture sector but also increases food security in the region.

The Ambassador to Ghana, Dene Cretz, praised the project as being part of the solution to global hunger and poverty in accordance with President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative. Now that over 29,000 low-income farmers are participating in the ADVANCE program, all of Botanga can experience the benefits of the project.

– Mary Penn

Source: Ghana Web