Cul­ti­va­tion of mar­ket-ori­ented crops im­por­tant

The Myanmar Times - - Local Business - SU PHYO WIN su­phy­owin@mm­times.com

THE Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion is con­sid­er­ing grow­ing more crops that are in high de­mand by the mar­ket.

Myan­mar has only fo­cused on grow­ing pro­duc­tion-ori­ented crops rather than more mar­ket-ori­ented crops which are in de­mand, said U Ye Tint Tun, direc­tor gen­eral of the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion.

Pro­duc­tion-ori­ented crops fo­cus more on ef­fi­ciency and ease of growth, while mar­ket ori­ented crops are crops which the mar­ket cur­rently wants.

“Farm­ers tra­di­tion­ally cul­ti­vate paddy and they just keep cul­ti­vat­ing paddy as usual. Some onion farm­ers do the same.

But high-qual­ity mar­ket-ori­ented crops also need to be cul­ti­vated. Rather than choos­ing crops which are eas­ier to grow, farm­ers need to find out which crops the mar­ket is de­mand­ing and cul­ti­vate those crops in ac­cor­dance with the stan­dards of qual­ity they need to achieve,” he said.

Chang­ing the farm­ing sys­tem won’t hap­pen overnight though. One way to fa­cil­i­tate the process is by work­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor to gain know-how. Mar­ket in­for­ma­tion, price guar­an­tee and tech­nol­ogy trans­fer through for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment can be the so­lu­tion for farm­ers to switch crops in a prof­itable man­ner, U Ye Tint Tun said.

“It may be very dif­fi­cult to switch crops. But if we don’t start to­day, it can’t be pos­si­ble in the fu­ture. We have the land ac­cess, lo­gis­tics, elec­tric­ity and a func­tion­ing bank­ing sys­tem to at­tract FDI.”

The in­dus­try must also de­cide on which crops it plans to fo­cus on. “After we have cul­ti­vated suf­fi­cient vol­umes of paddy for food se­cu­rity pur­poses, we need to de­cide which other crops, such as oil crops, culi­nary crops or fruit and veg­eta­bles, to fo­cus on,” he said.

Not all ar­eas are ge­o­graph­i­cally suit­able for plant­ing new crops. “But there are also ar­eas where the plant­ing of new mar­ket-ori­ented cash crops can take place,” U Ye Tint Tun said. He added that an amended Farm­land Law to fa­cil­i­tate the plant­ing of new crops will be an­nounced soon.

In the mean­time, the min­istry is en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to cul­ti­vate sub­sti­tute crops to meet the chang­ing de­mands of the mar­ket, U Ye Tint Tun said.

“With re­gards to the re­cent cri­sis in the pulse and bean trade be­tween Myan­mar and In­dia, we think black matpe is the crop we need to change. And, Myan­mar has been im­port­ing a huge amount of palm oil. So, if we can cul­ti­vate more oil-based crops like peanuts, sesame, sun­flower seeds we can sub­sti­tute for palm oil im­port,” he said.

U Thein Aung, pres­i­dent of Free­dom of Farm­ers League warned that in en­cour­ag­ing or push­ing sub­sti­tute cash crops the min­istry needs to also con­sider the suc­cess rate of cul­ti­vat­ing those crops, as farm­ers have to in­vest time, money and give up a life­long rice bowl to cul­ti­vate new and un­fa­mil­iar crops.

“And ac­cord­ing to the Farm­land Law, if a farmer wants to change rice-cul­ti­vat­ing land into land for other crops, he needs to have of­fi­cial ap­proval. Most of the farm­ers rather have sta­ble, fair profit rather than higher profit be­cause if they fail after sub­sti­tut­ing crops, it will be in huge loss,” he said.

Photo: The Myan­mar Times

A ven­dor sells rice in Yan­gon. Farm­ers are be­ing en­cour­aged to plant other crops to meet de­mand.

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