Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Myanmar: Top officials discuss bigger role, needs, in rice production

Meetings were held in late January to update Myanmar partners on activities involving IRRI in Myanmar, particularly in relation to four current projects funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

On the 31 January meeting held in Nay Pyi Taw, the national capital, U Myint Hlaing, minister of agriculture and irrigation, mentioned Myanmar’s emerging role in global food security and highlighted the importance of research to help the country increase production and to improve the quality of rice.

The meeting was attended by some 60 participants from different departments under the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. The participants included the minister of agriculture and irrigation, the director generals of the Department of Agriculture (DoA) and the Department of Agriculture Research, DoA division directors, and representatives from Yezin Agricultural University and the Department of Agricultural Planning.

David Johnson, Program 3 leader and head of IRRI's Crop and Environmental Sciences Division, gave the opening remarks and presented about IRRI's project activities in the different rice environments of Myanmar.

U Kyaw Win, director general of the DoA, requested more collaboration with IRRI to build on the cooperation since the 1960s between IRRI and Myanmar. He said Myanmar needs more technologies on crop management and postharvest as well as pathways to bring technologies to farmers.

Madonna Casimero, IRRI senior scientist based in Myanmar, gave an overview about the IRRI Myanmar Office and its staff, projects, capacity-building plans, and opportunities.

Grant Singleton, leader of several IRRI-Myanmar projects, discussed project objectives and outputs. He and consultant U Than Aye then facilitated an open discussion and drafted agreed actions.

Andy Nelson, geographer and head of IRRI’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Laboratory, discussed approaches, progress, and plans for a project involving GIS and remote sensing.

Myo Aung Kyaw, IRRI postharvest consultant, provided updates on postharvest activities.

Trina Mendoza, IRRI communication specialist, presented about opportunities to improve communication of project outputs, while IRRI Ph.D. student Rica Flor discussed the concept of learning alliances, networks, and system analysis. Ms. Flor also facilitated a workshop on systems analysis the next day with representative stakeholders.

A project meeting was also held in Bogale Township, Ayeyarwady Division, on 28 January, with partners from local township and DoA offices in Bogale and Labutta, and non-government organizations including Welthungerhilfe, GRET, and Mercy Corps. 

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