Jun 3, 2013

Myanmar attaches importance to improving farmers' status

Myanmar's parliament has called for drafting a fair and practical farmers' law to ensure protection of farmers' right to encourage production.

A recent parliamentary workshop on agriculture involving the U. S. Agency International Development (USAID) admitted that inadequate agricultural loan and high interest rate are prevailing for farmers.

"Farmers who make up 70 percent of the population do not have access to adequate agricultural loan and input while the loan is provided at high interest rate," the Lower House pointed out, stressing the need of reform to be beneficial to people.

Speaker of the Lower House U Shwe Mann also pointed out that farmers find it difficult to keep on farming as the major source of livelihood being in debt. "It would be beneficial to farmers if fair and just legislation was enacted under the law to ensure the rule of law," he added.

Myanmar is making efforts to promote the development of agricultural sector with long- and short-term plans being implemented for transformation of conventional farming into mechanized farming across the country.

Special emphasis is being placed to better living standard of farmers and agricultural development for further cementing national strength.

The private sector is also actively participating in production of high yield and marketable quality of all crops.

In response to public appeal, the government is also increasing agricultural loan to farmers to address their need of the injection of capital in the sector.

Farm enterprises are also being encouraged to shift from export of raw agricultural produce to the export of quality product by establishing advanced rice mills, oil mills, refineries and packaging facilities.

The government emphasized the need to catch up with neighboring agro-based economies by pursuing five ways, namely enthusiasm, inset change, land reform, mechanization and using high-yield strains.

Farmers are set to boost production for food sufficiency as Myanmar's population is expected to reach about 100 million in next 30 years.

To raise farmers' enthusiasm, Myanmar exempted commercial tax for one year starting April 1 for exportation of fertilizer, pesticide, farm implements and equipment as well as distribution of them at domestic market

Meanwhile, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has pledged low-interest loan for Myanmar's farm sector development, planning to extend 36 million U.S. dollars as the first phase to be used in the process of transforming Myanmar's farming system into mechanized one.

IFAD said it will also cooperate with Myanmar for huge investment by private sector on required high technology and processing plants for export of agricultural produces including paddy to the international market.

Meanwhile, Myanmar government and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed a five-year Country Program Framework Agreement (2012-16) in February to implement three of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

To help promote the development of agriculture, India has extended an aid of 10 million U.S. dollars' farming equipment to Myanmar.

In addition, Myanmar is also cooperating with agricultural firms from Thailand and the Philippines to upgrade production technique in a bid to produce quality paddy seeds and rice.

Moreover, Myanmar is also bringing in Japanese technology including the technical aid from the Mizuho Financial Group Inc of Japan to boost agriculture.

In addition to the step-in of Japanese firms in the agricultural sector, those from South Korea and Vietnam are also planning to make investment in Myanmar.

As of the end of 2012, foreign investment in Myanmar's agricultural sector totaled 182.75 million U.S. dollars in nine projects, accounting for only 0.44 percent of the total since the country opened to such investment in late 1988.

Myanmar exported 610,500 tons of rice, gaining nearly 212.2 million U.S. dollars in 2012, a drop from 789,100 tons and 307 million dollars respectively in 2011 according to the government's statistics.

Source: Xinhua