Crop ex­port rev­enue triples in six years

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Business - JUNE 15, 2018 HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com BUSI­NESS 10

MYAN­MAR’S agri­cul­ture ex­ports have been on the rise, with rev­enues from sell­ing lo­cally pro­duced crops such as fruits and veg­eta­bles to other coun­tries nearly tripling be­tween 2010 and 2016, said U Hla Kyaw, Deputy Min­is­ter of the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion.

In 2016, to­tal rev­enue from agri­cul­ture ex­ports hit $140 mil­lion com­pared to $55 mil­lion in 2010, U Hla Kyaw said at the Myan­mar, Korea and Viet­nam - Three Na­tions Post-har­vest Tech­nol­ogy Ex­change Event in Nay Pyi Taw on Wed­nes­day.

“Fruits like wa­ter­melon, rock melon and mango as well as spices like dried chilli, ginger and car­damom seeds are pri­mar­ily ex­ported to China. White sesame and black sesame are ex­ported to China and Korea. Mean­while, beans and pulses are sold to In­dia and Eu­rope,” he said.

How­ever, U Hla Kyaw pointed out that lo­cal farm­ers need bet­ter ac­cess to post-har­vest tech­nol­ogy for more ef­fi­ciency and growth. “The rate of agri­cul­tural prod­uct wastage in Myan­mar is 18per­cent -42pc,” he said.

Most of the wastage oc­curs when the crops are trans­ported from farm to mar­ket. As such, new tech­nol­ogy is needed to help keep crops fresh while in tran­sit. In ad­di­tion, bet­ter pack­ag­ing and means of trans­porta­tion, such as in re­frig­er­ated con­tain­ers, should also be con­sid­ered.

There are cur­rently only two posthar­vest tech­nol­ogy re­search cen­ters in Myan­mar. One is a State-backed cen­tre in Htonebo, while the sec­ond cen­tre in Nay Pyi Taw was es­tab­lished last May with $4.5 mil­lion from South Korea.

“If we have ac­cess to bet­ter posthar­vest tech­nol­ogy, there will be less wastage and we can also en­sure bet­ter qual­ity crops are de­liv­ered. As such, de­vel­op­ment of this tech­nol­ogy is very im­por­tant in Myan­mar,” said Dr Hla Hla Myint, deputy di­rec­tor of the Agri­cul­tural De­part­ment.

The other ad­van­tage of post-har­vest tech­nol­ogy is the abil­ity to add value to the crops for bet­ter mar­gins. “We are cur­rently ex­port­ing raw com­modi­ties but we should make ef­forts to use tech­nol­ogy to add more value to the raw ma­te­ri­als,” said U Yan Lin, chair of Pyithu Hlut­taw Agri­cul­tural, Live­stock and Vil­lage So­cial and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee.

Gain­ing bet­ter rev­enue from ex­ports will also help the coun­try at a time when the cur­rent ac­count deficit, now 5pc of GDP com­pared to 3.9pc last year, has been widen­ing.

In 2017-18, the agri­cul­ture sec­tor ex­panded by 3.5pc, backed by bet­ter weather con­di­tions and pro­duc­tiv­ity. Agri­cul­ture also pro­vides about a third of the coun­try’s GDP.

Work­ers mov­ing bags of onions in Yangon. Photo: Nyan Zay Htet

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