On 10 October, Dr. Aung Thu, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation in Myanmar, joined the Board of Trustees of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and senior leaders alongside members of the donor community to witness Myanmar becoming a signatory to the Seed Sharing Protocol Agreement.
The signing took place as part of a day-long set of activities co-hosted by the Myanmar Department of Agriculture Research (DAR) and IRRI in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
The Seed Sharing Protocol was first signed in Siem Reap in June, 2017 by the agriculture ministries of Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The protocol enables signatories to drastically speed up the distribution of modern rice varieties across their borders allowing new and better seeds to reach the hands and fields of farmers more rapidly. In just 3 years, eight rice varieties have already been released and shared across the three original member country signatories - Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.
The protocol signing ceremony was followed by a Donor Roundtable discussion. Attended by U Naing Kyi Win, Director General of Department of Agricultural Research as well as representatives from USAID, the Asian Development Bank, ACIAR, the Chinese Embassy, JICA and the World Bank, the session featured a series of presentations on donor strategies for agriculture in Myanmar.
U Kyaw Swe Linn, Deputy Director General of the Department of Agricultural Planning opened the session with a presentation on the goals and objectives for the agriculture sector of the Myanmar government.
“One of the key thrusts of the new IRRI Strategic Plan is a commitment to greater regionalization and actually embedding global expertise, locally so that researchers are able to work more closely with national partners and respond to local challenges,” said Jim Godfrey, Chair of the IRRI Board of Trustees. He went on to say, “This session was very enlightening because it helped us to better understand the challenges and the opportunities that exist to support the Myanmar government closely as it strives to double its rice exports by 2020 and return to its preeminent position in the world’s rice trade.”
Earlier in the day, IRRI Trustees and senior leadership spent the morning at the Department of Agriculture Research where they were treated to a variety of traditional Myanmar rice-based delicacies. Information booths and a small demonstration of the sandalwood Thanaka were also available for those who wished to take advantage of the natural Myanmar sunscreen. The group then proceeded to view the DAR experimental rice fields where they were able to see several varieties selected and released by DAR including high zinc lines, IRRI variety trials, and the excellent farm management and support of IRRI’s field work.