Cooperative Department to subsidise agriculture machinery for farmers
FARMERS facing mounting labour costs have received welcome news from the Cooperative Department – help in buying quality farm machinery. The department has cut the required down payment by half, from 20 percent to 10pc.
The decision is also likely to help speed up mechanisation, thus eventually raising agricultural yields.
Most farmers lack the money to buy tractors and combine harvesters outright. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation is trying to help them. “We’ve sold about 85pc of our Korean-made machinery. Farmers used to pay 20pc down, and then we would help them buy the equipment with the company concerned. We’ve changed the system now to allow the farmers to pay only 10pc down,” U Myo Aung, director of the Cooperative Department, told The Myanmar Times on October 21.
If the company requires a 20pc down payment, the department will lend the extra 10pc to allow a farmer to buy the necessary machinery, as well as offering a threeyear instalment payment plan, paying 15pc every six months.
The ministry is giving priority to tractors and combine harvesters, which are the most popular items among farmers, but will also look at buying other sorts of equipment. The co-op department imported US$100 million worth of agricultural machinery from South Korea, despite an initial rejection of the purchase in parliament that was later reversed.
However, while acknowledging the quality of the Korean machinery, many farmers in lower Myanmar prefer Japanese, Dutch or Chinese products, saying that the Korean tractors get bogged down in their fields.
“South Korean machinery is known to be good quality, but it’s not suitable for soft farmland. Farmers here prefer Kubota, which is also a bit cheaper than South Korean-made machinery,” said U Aung Gyi, a farmer from Pyinmana township, Nay Pyi Taw.
Another Pyinmana farmer, U Ba Gyi of Kyun Oo village, said, “Farmers need agricultural machinery, and yield rates will increase if the country’s agriculture is mechanised.” Labour charges amount to at least K4000 a day per worker, which is higher than machinery costs, he said. “If we need to harvest paddy, we will have to pay at least K40,000 an acre because we need to hire 10 harvesters. Hiring a combine harvester costs about K35,000,” he said.
– Translation by Thiri Min Htun