Govt wants farm­ers to di­ver­sify with agri­cul­ture, live­stock

The Myanmar Times - - News - Thanhtoo@mm­times.com HTOO THANT

A PRO­POSAL urg­ing the Union govern­ment to as­sist farm­ers in run­ning joint agri­cul­tural and live­stock busi­nesses was sub­mit­ted to the Pyithu Hlut­taw on Au­gust 11 by MP U Tin Htwe (NLD; Waw).

Myan­mar needs to de­velop its farm­ing sec­tor be­cause it is an agri­cul­ture-based coun­try, he said, adding that the sec­tor could earn in­creased for­eign in­come by ex­port­ing more rice, beans and pulses.

He put agri­cul­tural land at 12 mil­lion acres, a to­tal that Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer U Myo Tint Tun said was low – this mon­soon sea­son alone, U Myo Tint Tun said, rice paddy will be grown on more than 15 mil­lion acres of land.

About 32 mil­lion peo­ple in Myan­mar rely on the rice farm­ing busi­ness, U Tin Htwe said.

Us­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods in the agri­cul­tural busi­ness, farm­ers see poor yields and are run­ning into debt, the MP said.

“Skilled peo­ple who can teach sci­en­tific farm­ing sys­tem to farm­ers are rare,” he said.

How­ever, U Myo Tint Tun said his de­part­ment does not have suf­fi­cient staff to ed­u­cate farm­ers about sci­en­tific farm­ing sys­tems.

“The staff we ap­pointed to ed­u­cate farm­ers is about 7000,” he said. “By that math, a staff mem­ber has to work about 700 acres. And then trans­porta­tion in vil­lages is not good. But the staff are not even pro­vided with a mo­tor­cy­cle for their trans­porta­tion.”

Farm­ers will suf­fer big losses if a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter strikes and they can­not pur­chase crop in­sur­ance, U Tin Htwe said.

Un­der the U Thein Sein govern­ment, a Ja­panese crop in­sur­ance com­pany came and started a weather in­dex in­sur­ance sys­tem, but it never got off the ground.

Farm­ers who go into debt af­ter fac­ing crop losses of­ten go abroad and leave their farm­land be­hind, U Tin Htwe said. They can­not spend loans from Myan­mar Agri­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment Bank on a new farm­ing busi­ness be­cause they need the money to re­pay their old debts, he said.

In May, Union Min­is­ter Aung Thu told the Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw that farm­ers could bor­row money and eas­ily spend it with­out try­ing to in­crease their agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

How­ever, MP U Hla Than (NLD; Kawa), who sec­onded the pro­posal, said, “Farm­ers are go­ing around in debt cir­cles af­ter tak­ing out loans from the agri­cul­tural bank and in­for­mal lenders be­cause their an­nual in­come is not equal to their an­nual ex­pen­di­ture.”

U Myo Tint Tun re­mained scep­ti­cal of the pro­posal, not­ing that farm­ers were en­cour­aged to run paddy-cum­fish farms in the 2000s.

“That method is good for big busi­nesses but not for medium-sized busi­nesses be­cause they need to fence the field to keep the fish in,” he said. “So it is only suit­able for those who could af­ford the in­vest­ment.”

– Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

Photo: AFP

Farm­ers trans­plant rice seedlings in a paddy field in Waw, Bago Re­gion, at the begin­ning of mon­soon sea­son.

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