Myan­mar must tap new plant species, seeds

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - Than­htoo@mm­times.com HTOO THANT

Myan­mar needs to build sus­tain­able busi­nesses in the cul­ti­va­tion of new plant species and seed pro­duc­tion, said Union Min­is­ter for Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion Dr Aung Thu.

MYAN­MAR must build busi­nesses in the cul­ti­va­tion of new plant species and seed pro­duc­tion, Union Min­is­ter for Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion Dr Aung Thu said.

“As the agri­cul­ture sec­tor is the main driver of the coun­try’s econ­omy and food se­cu­rity, I urge busi­nesses to carry out sus­tain­able seed pro­duc­tion and work with the govern­ment to cul­ti­vate new plant species,” he said at the 10th East Asia Plant Va­ri­ety Pro­tec­tion Fo­rum held at the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture Re­search on Septem­ber 12.

Al­though Myan­mar is an agri­cul­ture-in­ten­sive coun­try, the pro­duc­tion of pure-strain seed pro­duc­tion - which sup­ports the de­vel­op­ment of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts – is done only by the State. The pri­vate sec­tor has so far been ab­sent on this front. “As such, there has so far been lit­tle in­vest­ment in this sec­tor,” Dr Pa Pa Win, as­sis­tant re­search of­fi­cer from De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture Re­search, told The Myan­mar Times.

To-date, the State has al­ready cul­ti­vated and pro­duced up to 188 new strains of crops. In fact, the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture Re­search has es­tab­lished a sep­a­rate “Pro­tec­tion New Plant Species Unit” to at­tract tar­geted in­vest­ments from the pri­vate sec­tor.

By pro­duc­ing new high-yield plant species, the State is not only aim­ing to in­crease an­nual crop yields for lo­cal farm­ers. It also hopes con­sumers will en­joy ad­di­tional health ben­e­fits and nu­tri­tional value from the new crops.

Im­por­tantly, new plant species de­vel­oped to with­stand pest in­fes­ta­tions can also help the en­vi­ron­ment. “By pro­duc­ing new and stronger plant species, we can re­duce the use of pes­ti­cide and en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age,” Dr Pa Pa Win said.

She added that a sys­tem to pro­tect the cul­ti­va­tion of new species and seeds must be de­vel­oped. “The lack of a ba­sic pro­tec­tion sys­tem for those in­volved is the rea­son why there has not been much in­vest­ment,” she said.

By en­sur­ing that the plants will be pro­tected as they are be­ing cul­ti­vated, “we can en­cour­age in­vest­ments in pro­duc­ing strains that can en­dure pests and cli­mate change, said Dr Tin Htut, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion.

‘Im­por­tantly, new plant species de­vel­oped to with­stand pest in­fes­ta­tions can also help the en­vi­ron­ment...’ Dr Pa Pa Win As­sis­tant re­search of­fi­cer from De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture Re­search,

Photo: Htoo Thant

Myan­mar has de­vel­oped 188 new strains of crops like the Shwe Pyi Hmwe, which can bet­ter with­stand pests and cli­mate change.

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