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A Strategic Agriculture Sector and Food Security Diagnostic for Myanmar

Despite its enormous potential, Myanmar’s agriculture has underperformed over the past fifty years. Today, per capita earnings in agriculture average roughly $200 a year, one-half to one-third of the levels achieved by its regional peers. Given that two-thirds of the population works primarily in agriculture, low farm productivity translates into high rates of poverty and food insecurity. Currently, about one quarter of the population falls below the national poverty line. As a result, in spite of national rice self-sufficiency, food security for many households and individuals remains elusive. Poor households spend over 70% of their income on food. In addition, fully one-third of rural households borrow at some point during the year in order to purchase food. Even after shouldering this heavy financial burden, up to one-half of rural households report having to navigate two months each year without adequate food supplies, leaving one-third of the country’s children stunted. Why has Myanmar’s agricultural sector performed so poorly? As in other sectors of the economy, ongoing ethnic civil war and violence over the past 60 years, coupled with international isolation, have discouraged private investments and hindered the exchange of technology and know-how. Within the agricultural sector, a series of institutional, policy and structural constraints has hampered agricultural growth and contributed to Myanmar’s current high rates of hunger and malnutrition. The most critical of these problems include: • a highly skewed land distribution, which leaves roughly half of rural households landless, • poor water control systems in the presence of global climate change and increasingly unpredictable rainfall, • a high-cost transportation system, • weak rural financial institutions, • unpredictable government policies, • low public investments in agricultural research, and • weak links between extension services and farmers. Fortunately for the two-thirds of Myanmar citizens who work in agriculture, all of these impediments can be remedied through good policies, institutional reforms and key public investments.

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Additional Info

Field Value
Document type Reports, journal articles, and research papers (including theses and dissertations)
Language of document
  • English
  • Agriculture and fishing
  • Food security
Geographic area (spatial range)
  • Myanmar
Copyright Yes
Access and use constraints

© All rights reserved by Michigan State University, 2013 Michigan State University agrees to and does hereby grant to the United States Government a royalty-free, non-exclusive and irrevocable license throughout the world to use, duplicate, disclose, or dispose of this publication in any manner and for any purposes and to permit others to do so. Copies of all MSU International Development Papers, Working Papers, and Policy Syntheses are freely downloadable in pdf format.

Version / Edition 1.1
License unspecified

Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics and the
Department of Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1039, U.S.A.

Co-author (individual) Ngu Wah Win, Naw Eh Mwee Aye Wai, Tin Maung Than, Duncan Boughton, Steven Haggblade, Glenn Denning, Renate Kloeppinger-Todd, Khin Mar Cho, Shannon Wilson, Larry C.Y.Wong, Zaw Oo, Tun Min
Co-author (coorporate) MDRI-CESD, MDRI-CESD, Michigan State University, Michigan State University, Michigan State University, Michigan State University, Michigan State University, Michigan State University, Michigan State University, MDRI-CESD, MDRI-CESD
ISSN number 0731-3483
Publication place USA
Publisher Michigan State University
Publication date 2013
Pagination 93
Keywords Poverty,Rural Infrastructure,Strategic Agricultural Sector and Food Security Diagnostic for Burma
Date uploaded August 17, 2018, 03:50 (UTC)
Date modified April 10, 2021, 16:10 (UTC)