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U.S. Benefits From Foreign Aid to Myanmar
Myanmar (formerly Burma) was once considered an outcast from the international community due to the oppressive, military junta that held power from 1962 until the 21st Century. It was not until 2011 that the nation embarked on their multi-year journey towards political and economic reform. Slowly but surely, Myanmar has begun implementing reforms that work to dismantle its previous, exclusive regimes that were in power for nearly 50 years.

USAID

A big part of Myanmar’s quest for an inclusive, parliamentary democracy and creating a market-oriented economy has been dependent on United States aid. Not only does the U.S. have a commitment to helping Myanmar achieve its gradual liberalization, but there are also a variety of U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Myanmar. Myanmar has immense economic potential, given that they are resource-rich with access to large, growing markets. However, due to decades of systematic corruption, the vast majority of the population have not been receivers of economic prosperity.

One of USAID’s main focuses within its quest to provide foreign aid to Myanmar is the empowerment of small-scale farmers. With agriculture taking up 70 percent of employment, USAID has invested in both agriculture and food security to reduce hunger and poverty.

USAID hopes that these investments in broad-based agricultural growth will not only help Myanmar’s small-scale farmers improve their connection to end markets, but it will also help keep an agricultural epidemic at bay; an occurrence which in turn, helps keep the U.S. economy stable.

Myanmar and Agriculture

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Myanmar through this process, as when Myanmar’s agricultural production is healthy and efficient, the U.S. economy has the potential to thrive off purchases of agricultural equipment from U.S. manufacturers.

Currently, Myanmar’s agricultural industry depends on traditional manual labor, and it lack advanced technologies that can add value to their goods. This is why developing Myanmar’s agricultural business is important for the U.S., as when Myanmar is able to produce products like rice, which accounts for 60 percent of their production value, at much quicker speeds, the price has the potential to decrease for U.S buyers.

Rohingya Muslim Refugees

In addition to supporting Myanmar’s agricultural industry, the U.S also contributes nearly $32 million in humanitarian aid to the Rohingya Muslim refugees.

The Rohingya Muslim refugees are a marginalized group forced to seek refuge in camps after the 2012 Rakhine State riots. Their involuntary removable from the predominantly Buddhist nation was a necessary measure to escape the systematic violence and persecution in their home country of Myanmar.

This crisis has greatly jeopardized the U.S.-funded progress Myanmar made in its move away from harsh, military rule to its now democratic state.

U.S. and Internationalism

However, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Myanmar in this situation because it help calms international waters. Additionally, the distributed humanitarian aid funds are going a long way in helping these refugees, as it’s supplying food and medicalcare along with sanitation and shelter to a group in desperate need of support.

U.S.-funded aid to Myanmar is a huge factor in helping this developing nation regain full control of its political, economic and social states. Myanmar has already begun to see beneficial provisions that have shifted its connotation as an isolated economy to an invested focal point.

Road of Improvement

There has also been a rise in freedom of speech — in 2015, the country held its first free general elections since 1990. While there is still a continued military influence and weak points in parliamentary politics, the political trajectory of Myanmar is not one set in stone.

Patience is a key factor in allowing Myanmar to carefully and effectively regain control of its politics; it has been a strenuous past sixty years, and peace is not going to come overnight. With the continued help of the United States, both nations are on a likely road of positive improvements.

– Alexandra Dennis

Photo: Flickr

land_grabbing_and_hunger
There are approximately 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today, with hunger and malnutrition as the leading causes of death in the developing world. Yet, despite the overwhelming magnitude of this problem, global hunger can be solved. By addressing the factors behind widespread hunger – poor agricultural systems, poverty, environmental exploitation and economic crises – we can come closer to ending it. Below are just five practical ways to end global hunger.

1. Decrease the production of meat.
The intense rate at which many countries focus on producing meat has taken a serious toll on resources. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s valuable agricultural resources go towards feeding livestock. If the production of meat was reduced, those resources could go toward ending undernourishment instead.
2. Food for Life and the human responsibility. 
Food for Life is an organization committed to putting a stop to world hunger. Based on simple, yet powerful, principles of human spirit, humility and compassion, Food for Life has developed a number of programs that bring both food and education to malnourished countries.
3. Stop land grabbing. 
Wealthy countries without extensive landholdings have started seizing land in underdeveloped countries to use as allotments. This “land grabbing” prevents people living in the region from using that land to grow crops and sustain their communities, further perpetuating hunger and malnutrition in the area.
4. Small-scale farming. 
Family farmers play a vital role in the development of food sustainability. Small farmers are more likely to produce crops rich in nutrients as opposed to conventional agribusiness that grow mostly starchy crops. Organizations such as AGRA, which works towards a green revolution in Africa, focus heavily on small farmers, providing them with education, quality soils and the seeds necessary to build a prosperous farm.
5. Eliminate infant malnutrition. 
Infant malnutrition is rampant in underdeveloped countries that lack the resources and education necessary to nourish healthy children. Educating families and mothers living in these regions on proper feeding techniques and providing them with the right nutrients at every stage of the pregnancy will make a huge difference in alleviating infant malnutrition.
– Chante Owens

Sources: The Guardian, Food for Life, Living Green Magazine
Photo: Greenpeace

Small Scale Farmer
With a rising population and a high demand on food production, our world is looking for solutions to increase food production. Small-scale farmers play an important role in the dilemma of feeding our world. Currently small-scale farmers produce the majority of food for the developing world.

There are millions of success stories about small-scale farmers reaching out and sustaining whole communities. For example, in Brazil there is a food security policy known as Zero Hunger. In this program the government buys products directly from small-scale farmers and distributes the products to day-care centers, hospitals and community associations.

However, the UN and FAO in a report, Smallholder Integration in Changing Food Markets, highlight the challenges still ahead for small-scale farmers. The report calls attention to the importance of policymakers in the growth of small-scale farmers. The report focuses on the fact that most small-scale farmers are removed from the market. It calls for policymakers to create greater market integration and more inclusive value chains. The report concludes that by doing these things, small-scale farmers will be more inclined to adopt new technologies to grow productivity.

The report stresses the two main ways to link small-scale farmers to the market are to provide better access to credit and insurance, and to strengthen the links between farmers and buyers. The report discusses the fact that, in many countries, transportation is too costly, infrastructure is inadequate, and the cost of storage is too high. Small-scale farmers are unlikely to risk producing a surplus of products if they think that their products would go to waste.

“High levels of price, production risks and uncertainty, and limited access to tools to manage them deter investment in more productive new technologies that would enable smallholders to produce surpluses for sale in markets,” according to the report.

Policymakers must focus on the inclusion of small-scale farmers into the market. Small-scale farmers are important to the future of our world and must be supported.

– Catherine Ulrich

Sources: FAO, International Institute for Environment and Development, UN News