Crop export revenue triples in six years
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.