20th of July in Yangon: Myanmar agriculture towards sustainability

On July 20th, around 80 participants attended the conference co-organised by Green Lotus, HamsaHub and Green Way, entitled “Investing in sustainable agriculture”.

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The participants represented different actors of the Myanmar agricultural sector including farmers, private service providers (e-Trade), market actors (City Mart, Shan Maw Myae, Eridan), civil society organizations (Myanmar Peace Centre, NEED-Myanmar, FSWG, the Myanmar Peasant Union…), INGOs (Welthungerhilfe, GIZ), national and international institutions (MOST, UMFCCI, the French Embassy, FAO …) and research organizations (MDRI, …).

Over two plenary sessions, the participants were presented with case studies, national and international experiences on different options to structure agricultural value chains in order to benefit all actors and especially farmers. The detailed presentations of the speakers can be found on the Green Lotus website here.

During two workshop sessions, the 80 participants brainstormed and discussed actively in small groups on different aspects of the Myanmar agricultural sector, the opportunities and challenges it faces today and proposed solutions to develop the sector in a sustainable way.

The key points, which came out very strongly during these debates included:

  1. the lack of access by farmers to quality inputs, relevant technical knowledge, adapted technology and quality, timely information concerning all aspects of their activity
  2. the necessity to improve market linkages within agricultural value chains from the inputs providers to the farmers to the agricultural produce retailers and the consumers,
  3. the urgent need to reform the regulatory framework of the agricultural sector

Structuring a value chain based on transparent and clear food safety and quality standards, which would be certified through a third party independent labeling organization, could be one of the solutions to improving market linkages and the incomes of all actors involved. This could be an “organic label”, a Geographical Indication, a Fair Trade label, a Participatory Guarantee System. There are numerous certification systems in place in the world today which Myanmar could get an inspiration from. The participants at the conference have shown that there are a number of initiatives already in Myanmar going in this direction. There is now the need for a coordinated effort between all these initiatives to make this a reality.

This conference was a first effort to bring the people behind these innovative initiatives together, so they can share, exchange and start finding a common ground to work together. This is just the beginning though, and Green Lotus has the ambition to foster more interactions between key actors of the Myanmar “organic” agriculture sector, thus contributing to a sustainable development of one of Myanmar’s key economic sectors.

All the presentations are available here