Getting to know Myanmar's agriculture
For many years, little is known about Myanmar except for the encyclopedic facts written about the country. That it used to be called Burma, and that it is bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. It’s also a country that has been involved in one of the longest known civil wars, and that in 2011, its military junta has been dissolved, following a 2010 general election and a civilian government was installed.
Recently, FFTC and the Malaysian Agriculture Research Development Institute (MARDI) invited Dr. Mar Mar Kyu, Emeritus Professor of the Department of Agronomy , Yezin Agriculture University in Myanmar to present a paper entitled “Farmland Policies for Young Generation in Myanmar: Purchasing and Leasing” in the recently held workshop on “Cultivating the Young Generation of Farmers with Farmland Policy Implications.” In the said paper, Dr. Kyu also presented a general agricultural landscape of her country which, as the books describe, is rich in jade and gems, oil, natural gas, and other mineral resources.
Myamnar as Dr. Kyu's paper reports, is a predominantly agricultural country, and the agriculture sector is the backbone of its economy. Agriculture contributes 23% of GDP; 20% of export earnings; and employs 61.2% of the labor force (2013-2014). Rural development which includes agricultur, is the priority sector for the national economy. Seventy percent of the population reside in rural areas and rely on agriculture, livestock and fishery for their livelihood.
One-fourth of the total area of Myanmar is agricultural land. The total net sown area is 11.87 million hectares. About 3.64 million hectares are currently cultivated by small-scale farmers. According to its 2014 census, the population of Myanmar is 51.41 million, 43% of whom work in agricultural lands. The diversity of its soil and climate favors the production of a wide range of many agricultural products. More than 60 different crops, including both tropical and temperate varieties can be grown. Among the major crops, Myanmar has a rice surplus to fulfill the local food security since almost half of the sown area is occupied by rice. Maize is the second major cereal crop and 80% of Myanmar’s total; corn is being exported to China, Singapore, Vietnam, Maslaysia, India, Bulgaria and Spain. The country is also standing as a leader in pulses production in the ASEAN region. Major exportable varieties are black gram, green gram, pigeon, pea, soybean, butter bean, cowpea and kidney bean.
Dr. Mar Mar Kyu (lady in the middle), Emeritus Professor of the Department of Agronomy , Yezin Agriculture University in Myanmar presents a paper entitled “Farmland Policies for Young Generation in Myanmar: Purchasing and Leasing”
About 3.64 million hectares of agricultural lands in Myanmar are currently cultivated by small-scale farmers.