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Growth potential in agriculture restricted by quality, other issues

In Myanmar, agriculture contributes to a third of the country’s GDP, a quarter of its exports and creates the bulk of job opportunities. Yet, the sector’s true potential remains restricted by poor access to finance and technology, limited infrastructure, complex land tenure and quality issues as well as weak supply chains.

Nevertheless, demand for products of higher and safer quality has been on the rise domestically and the agriculture sector must take advantage of the expertise international companies can offer in this regard, Aung Thu, Union Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said at the Agrobusiness Forum 2019 organised by EuroCham Myanmar recently.

U Aung Thu said Myanmar welcomes international support in adhering to the Good Agricultural Practices and demonstrating that farmers can remain or become even more profitable by improving the quality of their crops.

The minister also made a commitment to furthering collaborations between the public and private sector in addressing issues and improving best practices in the industry.

During the forum, leaders and stakeholders stressed the need for responsible practices across the domestic supply chain. U Zaw Oo, Executive Director for the Centre for Economic and Social Development, also highlighted the government’s role in supporting the local supply chain

‘’The government has a very important role to play in the supply chain and solving common issues in areas such as trade and finance, labour rights, land, technology, food safety and environment . It can also give more funds to agriculture research and agriculture labs and all the research and development activities that no one will do,” he said

Currently, foreign investment into the agriculture sector is less than one percent of total foreign direct investment.

But Myanmar’s numerous agricultural challenges are actually areas for potential investment for international investors, the EuroCham noted in its 2019 Agriculture Guide “The lack of diversification ensures large potential in value-added crops. There is potential for foreign investors to engage in diversification of crops to meet market demands and the country’s export targets.”

Myanmar also has a large, young, rural population that will ensure a growing domestic market able to absorb an increasing amount of produce. The country has a high land/ labour ratio and contains a variety of agro-ecological zones conducive to diverse agriculture, livestock and fisheries. Importantly, Myanmar is strategically located within ASEAN and between China and India.

This month, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation with the help of Asia Development Bank, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation and Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund launched Myanmar’s Agriculture Development Strategy for the next five years.

The strategy aims to accelerate growth in the sector through governance, productivity and competitiveness, driven by close cooperation between the government, farmers and businesses.

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Source :Myanmar Times

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