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					No-A-0683(I) 7th November 1998		

		This is office is presenting an article entitled "Agricultural Myanmar"
written by Kyaw Win (Labour) of Myanmar Perspectives Vol:III  3/98 for your
reading pleasure.

							Agricultural Myanmar

		Myanmar's Economy has traditionally been based on Agriculture. That is
because Nature has blessed it with vast areas of fertile land and abundant
sources of water which are the principal ingredients of an Agro-based economy.
		Major rivers flow from the north to south of the country emptying into the
sea around the Western and Southern part of Myanmar. These rivers are fed
along their routes by a myriad rivulets and creeks. On the arable land, fed by
the water of the rivers, rivulets and creeks, are grown various types of
		The seasonal monsoons from the South-West brings rain to Myanmar for about
five months every year, filling the rivers and creeks and watering the land
for cultivation of rice, the principal crop of Myanmar. Nowadays however,
rice is also being grown in winter as well as in summer in areas which are fed
by water from the various dams, or pumped into the paddy fields from the
rivers and creeks.
		Three other priority crops, namely pulses, sugar cane and cotton are grown
in areas suitable for the cultivation of such crops. Jute is particularly
grown along with rice in the deltas and rain-fed areas of the southern "bulge"
of the country.
		In the middle part of Myanmar is the so called "Dry Zone" because of the low
amount of rainfall it receives every year. Principal crops grown in the "Dry
Zone" are cotton, tobacco, groundnut, sesamum, potatoes, onions, chillies and
a variety  of pulses and beans. In recent times, due to the efforts of the
Government, the "Dry Zone" is being watered by irrigation canals from the dams
in and around the area. In places, water from the Ayeyarwaddy, the longest
river flowing down the middle of the country past the "Dry Zone", is being
pumped into the surrounding areas. "Watering" of the "Dry Zone"  has not only
increased crop variety being sown there, but also crop yields thus increasing
agricultural production of the area.  It has also enabled massive tree
planting campaigns, which contributes to the "greening " of the region. 
		In contrast to the "Dry Zone", the mild climate of the hilly regions of the
Chin State in the North-West, the Kachin State in the North and the Shan State
in the East, is conducive to the growing of such crops as coffee, tea, as well
as a variety of vegetables and fruits. Staple food such as rice and wheat are
grown in the valleys and by terrace cultivation on the hills in these regions,
Sunflower is also extensively grown in the Shan State for its oil seed.
		In many areas of the Shan, Kachin and Chin States, where both the soil and
the climate are suitable, efforts are being made to grow  a variety of fruit
trees on a commercial basis. Private sector investment is being encouraged as
the potential exists for growing and eventually exporting fruits, such as
oranges, apples, pears, damsons etc. 
		 Down south, in the "leg" of Myanmar facing Thailand, are grown a variety of
crops particularly fruits such as durians, mangosteens, grapefruits,
rambutans, pineapples and others. The area is also known for its large rubber
and coconut plantations.
		From what has been recounted above, it is no wonder that the principal
activity of the majority of the people of Myanmar has centered around
agriculture and trading in agricultural produce. Myanmar has the potential to
grow food not only to feed itself but also be one of the principal  food
producers of the region. In fact with the injection of more capital and
advanced Agro-technology Myanmar can become one of the principal exporters of
agricultural produce in the region.
		Of the work force available for agriculture at the present time, a labour
force estimated at around 20 million, almost two thirds, are in agriculture.
With such a large labour force in agriculture, there is no uncertainty of the
availability of labour for all types of agricultural activities.
		A Labour Force Survey  conducted by the Department of Labour in 1990, under
a project implemented in cooperation with UNDP, ILO and UNFPA, indicated that,
at that time the Total Labour Force was around 16 million. Almost 10 million
were in the agriculture, livestock and fishery sectors. 
		In the agricultural sector, besides the farmers who work the land
themselves, there are labourers who work for the farmers for payment in cash
or kind. However, the survey revealed that of the 10 million engaged in
agriculture, livestock and fishery, about 4.5 million were mostly "family
workers". They were persons who worked without pay of any kind in farming, or
a business operated by any member of the household, excluding housekeeping.
		This scenario may have changed somewhat now due to the intensification of
agriculture since then. However it is safe to say that a considerable
proportion of the agricultural work force is still made up of "family
workers." Hence the potential exists for availability of agricultural labour
for wage employment in the event that investments in various areas of
agriculture are made.
		It goes without saying that increased investment in agriculture,
particularly in areas such as increasing sown acerage, introducing new crops
or advanced agro-technology, will yield benefits for the investors, as well as
increase wage employment in the agricultural sector. This will result in
improved income distribution in the rural areas and hence uplift the quality
of life of the rural populace as well.