Friday, May 3, 2019

Unlocking the agriculture potential of Myanmar’s central plains

The fast-growing economy in Myanmar heavily depends on agriculture, being the main source of income for most households. Strategic investment in infrastructure and agricultural management practices, and strengthening institutional capacities are needed to transform the country’s agricultural sector. Despite being endowed with abundant land and water resources, the existing irrigation systems in Myanmar are greatly underutilized. Improving its infrastructure can provide opportunities for better crop intensification, especially in the central plains of Myanmar, which is a potential food granary for the country.

To address this challenge, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) on the Agricultural Development Support Project. Financed by the World Bank, its goal is to support the country’s aim to increase crop yields and cropping intensity in the central plains, contributing to economic development and food security. Currently, the IRRI team has been providing technical assistance in the development of economically and environmentally sustainable rice-based production systems and in building capacities of key actors in the agriculture sector.

The project uses an inclusive approach that targets not only the rehabilitation of the infrastructure but also the improvement of agriculture practices, social cohesion, and institutional capacity towards sustained rice sector transformation.

During the ADSP Implementation Support Mission and Mid-Term Review meeting on April 25-26, Dr. Indira Janaki Ekanayake, Senior Agriculture Economist, AgGP Country Coordinator of the World Bank for Myanmar, expressed her appreciation on the progress led by MoALI in partnership with IRRI and other international consultant agencies. She emphasized the need for an inclusive approach including technological options, public-private collaboration, and enabling social cohesion to outscale and sustain the change.

“We will continue to focus on strengthening capacities and enabling knowledge sharing. MoALI and IRRI will also jointly explore and fill the gaps to ensure the improvement in the Central Plain’s rice productivity and cropping intensity,” explained Dr. Sudhir Yadav,  IRRI’s ADSP project leader. “By working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture Research and Agricultural Mechanization Department in providing technical backstopping for an improved rice-based production system of the country, we are on track to improve yield and to better understand and minimize the economic, social, and environmental trade-offs.”

By 2020, ADSP is targeting to improve the cropping intensity and productivity in the four irrigation schemes located in  Bago East, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, and Sagaing regions of the Central Plains.

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