Recent report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says Myanmar’s agricultural income per capita is about US$200 per year, which is the lowest in Asia.
The report says Myanmar’s agricultural sector has considerable potential for expansion and diversification but faces structural constraints. Agriculture accounts for nearly 32 per cent of Myanmar’s GDP and 20 per cent of its export earnings. Most farms are subsistence-level holdings, with over 50 per cent of farms being smaller than five acres.
The report also says raising incomes in rural areas will require increased agricultural productivity. Rice is Myanmar’s main crop, but rice productivity is low, and its output has been growing more slowly than that of other crops.
“Improving the performance of agricultural value chains and integrating Myanmar’s over 2 million commercial smallholders into them can provide a way to harness emerging demand-driven market opportunities to modernise the agriculture sector, improve its performance and raise rural incomes,” the report says.
“The value-chain approach generates linkages to complementary non-agricultural services and inputs at each stage of the chain from input supplier to producer to consumer that can ignite the wider process of the transformation in the rural economy. These complementary inputs and activities add value to the product and include a wide range of services such as processing, transportation, technical assistance, marketing and logistics and the provision of inputs ranging from chemicals to machinery.”
“In our country, after independence, we haven’t developed any vacant and virgin land for farming. But we have formed the Agricultural and Rural Development Corporation to develop the agriculture sector,” said Tin Htut Oo, the economic advisor to President Thein Sein, at a recent seminar on Myanmar’s political transition.