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A Strategic Agricultural Sector and Food Security Diagnostic for Myanmar

Despite its enormous potential, Myanmar’s agriculture has underperformed over the past fifty years. Today, per capita earnings in agriculture average roughly $200 a year, one-half to onethird of the levels achieved by its regional peers. Given that two-thirds of the population works primarily in agriculture, low farm productivity translates into high rates of poverty and food insecurity. Currently, about one quarter of the population falls below the national poverty line. As a result, in spite of national rice self-sufficiency, food security for many households and individuals remains elusive. Poor households spend over 70% of their income on food. In addition, fully one-third of rural households borrow at some point during the year in order to purchase food. Even after shouldering this heavy financial burden, up to one-half of rural households report having to navigate two months each year without adequate food supplies, leaving one-third of the country’s children stunted. Why has Myanmar’s agricultural sector performed so poorly? As in other sectors of the economy, ongoing ethnic civil war and violence over the past 60 years, coupled with international isolation, have discouraged private investments and hindered the exchange of technology and know-how. Within the agricultural sector, a series of institutional, policy and structural constraints has hampered agricultural growth and contributed to Myanmar’s current high rates of hunger and malnutrition. The most critical of these problems include: • a highly skewed land distribution, which leaves roughly half of rural households landless, • poor water control systems in the presence of global climate change and increasingly unpredictable rainfall, • a high-cost transportation system, • weak rural financial institutions, • unpredictable government policies, • low public investments in agricultural research, and • weak links between extension services and farmers. Fortunately for the two-thirds of Myanmar citizens who work in agriculture, all of these impediments can be remedied through good policies, institutional reforms and key public investments.

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Additional Info

Field Value
Document type Reports, journal articles, and research papers (including theses and dissertations)
Language of document
  • English
Topics Agriculture and fishing
Geographic area (spatial range)
  • Myanmar
Copyright To be determined
Version / Edition 1.1
License unspecified
Author (individual) Tin Maung Than
Co-author (individual) Zaw Oo, Tun Min Sandar, Ngu Wah Win, Duncan Boughton, Renate Kloeppinger-Todd, Steven Haggblade, Glenn Denning, Khin Mar Cho, Larry C.Y.Wong, Shannon Wilson, Naw Eh Mwee Aye Wai
Co-author (coorporate) Michigan State University, MDRI-CESD
Publication date 2013
Keywords Poverty,Agriculture Sector,Food Secturity,Rural Infrastructure,Agriculture Sector Development,Strategic Agricultural Sector and Food Security Diagnostic for Burma
Date uploaded August 17, 2018, 03:45 (UTC)
Date modified April 10, 2021, 15:07 (UTC)