Myanmar Launches First Inquiry into Agricultural Chemicals and Their Effects

The Upper House of Parliament’s agriculture committee has launched its very first parliamentary inquiry into chemicals used in agriculture and their effects on the health and quality of life of farmers, workers and consumers across the country, according to the committee chair.

Myanmar’s Upper House of Parliament and chair of the Agriculture Committee, U Aung Kyi Nyunt, told The Irrawaddy, “we will [make an] inquiry into agriculture chemical products used by farmers and how they have been using the chemical products which were imported legally or illegally. We will also [investigate] the chemical residues effects on agriculture.”

“[The committee is] concerned about the impact of residues from herbicides and fertilizers in crops and produce. Chemicals affect farmers’ health, as well as the health of consumers and the environment. We will try to understand how to limit the harmful effects of agricultural chemical residues on produce and crops,” said U Aung Kyi Nyunt.

According to a 2016 report by the World Bank and the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT), Myanmar farmers widely use urea and compound fertilizers for paddy production in both monsoon and dry seasons, but often at inefficient application rates and in inappropriate nutrient compositions. Moreover, the report pointed out that the problem was caused by the lack of agricultural research and the government’s public education.

The inquiry process is supported by the United Nations Development Programme and is said to be the first time in the history of Myanmar that a parliamentary inquiry is to be conducted in agriculture. The committee has put out a public call for submissions from the government, civil society, the private sector and individuals.

U Aung Kyi Nyunt said the committee has distributed questionnaires to lawmakers who can investigate the use of chemical products by people in their constituencies.

The questionnaires roughly include questions on the name of the chemical products, the brand name, the expiry date, the country of origin and the reason for using the products.

The committee will collect the data from related departments, lawmakers, experts and local people. It said the inquiry is open to all and they will accept information from any people, organization or local NGO interested in contributing their data, he said.

“We have a plan to hold hearings to further explore the information received. Afterwards, we will produce a final written report including key conclusions and recommendations for the government on addressing the problem through new policy solutions,” he added.

SOURCE: THE IRRAWADDY

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