Myanmar Seed Industry News

This page features a compilation and selection of Myanmar seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the Union of Myanmar. 

The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.

This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.

 

Paddy, lentil prices and demand affected: January 2021:
Farmers in Minbu (Saku) Township, Magway Region, say that crop prices are falling continuously linked to Covid impacts on the movement of goods. Aside from affected paddy prices, demand for lentils in China has also dropped concurrently with prices. Read more in the Myanmar Times here.

 

Water hyacinth, sunflower seed research: January 2021:
According to the Department of Agricultural Research, research is underway to produce Early Generation Seed (EGS) for the parent line (male line) of Yezin hybrid water hyacinth. The Department of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Researchers are also working on the production of Early Generation Seed (EGS) in the production of hybrid sunflower seeds, with the aim of ensuring that the quality of the hybrid sunflower cultivars can continue to grow without compromising on quality. More details here in the Voice Myanmar.  

 

New rice seed trading app launched: January 20201:
The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) on January 8 launched a new Rice Portal Mobile Application, which enables farmers and entrepreneurs to connect with each other as part of efforts to use technology an to support the development of Myanmar's rice sector. Ye Min Aung, chairman of the Myanmar Rice Federation, said the portal was a platform designed for seed sellers and buyers to access information on trade issues. The application is jointly developed by the Myanmar Rice Federation and Welthungerhilfe (WHH) and is only available for seed trading. Later, it is planned to add rice (grain), machinery and equipment. See news in Myanmar here. Also, see this earlier coverage of the app in an article published in December, 2020, as well as this story here.

2020 News

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USAID report touches quality assurance, seed sector improvement: December 2020:
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) 's Feed the Future Myanmar Agriculture and Food System Development Project has recently published a report exploring ways to develop value-added livestock and agricultural products. Among other things, the report included recommendations to realize opportunities to improve seed and quality assurance systems. More details in Burmese here

Watermelon prices double: December 2020:
Reportedly as a result of the impacts from Covid-19 and border movement restrictions between China and Myanmar since the beginning of 2020, watermelon prices in Myanmar have doubled. In ‘normal years’, watermelon is cultivated on some 60,000 acres on the Burmese side of the border annually; however, the acreage this year has reduced to half that. With less watermelons being exported across the border to China, the prices have surged. More details in Burmese here

New markets for Burmese watermelons: December 2020:
For the past 30 years, Burmese watermelons have relied solely on the Chinese market, but now new markets are opening up for Burmese seedless varieties, namely in the UAE, the United States,  United Kingdom, Qatar and Singapore. Moreover, Myanmar will also export more mangoes and pineapples, as reported in Burmese here

Expanding coffee plantations in Pyinmana: December 2020:
Coffee cultivation is being expanded in the mountainous area east of Nay Pyi Tawas part of a community-based tourism development project. The Department of Agriculture is preparing seeds of suitable varieties to be planted in mountainous area in the eastern part of Pyinmana.More details here

Drought affects peanut crop in Ayeyarwady region: October 2020:
Peanut farmers in the Ayeyarwady region have been affected by low rainfall this year and the lack of nutrient supply from peanut leaves due to the drought, which has reduced peanut yields and reduced yields by about half. Affected areas include Nwathogyi, Myingyan, Taungtha, Ngan Zun, Nyaung Oo Rainfall in Chauk and other areas. The lack of rainfall has reportedly increased the number of pests and crop damage. Read more in Burmese here

Concerns about maize inflows, outflows: September 2020:
Negotiations were reportedly held between maize farmers and trade officials regarding the inflows and outflows of maize, which had been allowed to be exported to China and Thailand, creating concerns for domestic supply. Some traders and livestock farmers wanted to import, but a corn farmers' group was opposed to this based on fear that the domestic market would be flooded with produce and negatively affect prices. More details here

 

August 2020

Food exports jump this year despite, in light of pandemic

In the current fiscal year, Myanmar export revenue has increased by about US$2 billion, despite and perhaps in light of the COVID-19, which has caused disruptions to global trade since January. According to the Myanmar Times, citing the the Ministry of Commerce, Myanmar’s border trade with Bangladesh, India, Thailand and China has increased, with trade via maritime routes amounting to US$30 billion, about US$1.9 billion more than the same period last year. Demand for staple crops such as rice and corn, has been on the rise in new markets while corn exports rose by nearly 50% year-on-year, to about 2.5 million tonnes compared to 1.5 million tonnes last year. More than three-fifths of this went to Thailand via the Tachileik and Myawaddy border towns, while demand from other countries like Vietnam and the Philippines has also jumped. Read full article here

Cooperatives in different regions bridging supply and demand

Agriculture cooperatives across Myanmar are are working together to assist vegetable farmers in moving their produce to market. According to this article in the Myanmar Times, Cooperatives in different regions of the country are coordinating marketing logistics to match supply and demand  to minimise spoilage and losses. One example given was regarding the the Shan State Union Cooperative Syndicates Ltd who bought and marketed cabbages from Kalaw, and worked with other cooperatives to sell the produce in Yangon, Sagaing, Bago and Ayeyarwady regions. Another example was cooperatives in the Magwe Region, which is a major onion producer, who moved produce through cooperatives in Kachin State and Tanintharyi Region, where there is a short supply of onion production. 

Report pinpoints Covid challenges, opportunities for seed sector in Ayeyarwady Delta.

A rapid market assessment report has identified various key issues in the seed sector for Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Delta, providing a number of valuable recommendations during COVID 19 and beyond. Funded by LIFT, Mercy Corps (MC) and Welthungerhilfe (WHH), in collaboration with Village Link (VL), the report was conducted from late April to early May 2020. According to the Executive Summary, the objective of the RMA was to “better understand the current and potential impacts of COVID-19 (COVID) on rural

smallholder farmers and the broader food system, with a specific focus on the rice and pulses value chains. 661 respondents were interviewed in total across 26 townships in the Delta. The survey targeted key actors involved in the agricultural value chain, from smallholders and the landless to seed producers, input suppliers, rice millers,

other market actors and government officials. 428 respondents were surveyed through Village Link’s ‘Htwet Toe’ online application, with the remainder interviewed either via phone or online surveys following physical distancing guidelines, and circumventing logistical challenges due to travel restrictions. Download the report here

Paddy seed producers get support visit from Minister of Agriculture

(Translated) Myanmar’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Aung Thu on August 15 visited paddy fields in Kaum and Kungjungon districts of the Yangon region to provide support in the form of funds and staff for farmers, as part of pandemic relief efforts for the benefit seed producers. More details here

U Ye Myint: ‘the face of Myanmar coffee’

An interesting article documents the story of Mandalay Coffee Group’s U Ye Myint, who has built a coffee kingdom in Pyin Oo Lwin, a hill town about an hour’s drive from Mandalay. What started off with 200 acres of land in 1989 has today grown to be the Southeast Asian country’s largest high-end coffee bean exporter. Local demand has dropped since COVID-19 forced businesses and restaurants to close in April, but sales abroad have not been greatly affected… Read full story on Myanmar Times here.   

MAY 2020

400,000 acres to be ‘harnessed’ for rice seed, other crops

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) has announced agriculture relief plans. Myanmar Times reports on the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) which includes the “harnessing” of 400,000 acres of farmland, which includes a joint venture with the Myanmar Rice Federation to produce seeds on half the land, with the other half to  be used for harvesting of other crops. The news was reported in a story about a survey of the livestock industry which has suffered in recent months. 

WUR assesses Myanmar seed sector challenges 

Myanmar was among four developing countries whose seed sectors were assessed by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and collaborating partners as part of efforts to “identify priority steps for enhancing food systems’ resilience in low and middle income countries” and “to identify current challenges and urgent action in Myanmar’s seed sector, based on surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders.” The full assessment can be found here. The Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation also conducted the seed sector assessments for Nigeria, Uganda and Ethiopia. 

MARCH 2020

Myanmar ‘has enough food’

The President Spokesman’s office has offered assurance as the passage of goods across the China-Myanmar border had stopped and reports the India-Myanmar border had also been closed due to fears of the spread of the Coronavirus. 

FEBRUARY 2020

Seed imports surge by 45x in 10 years

The Myanmar Times has quoted Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, U Aung Thu as noting that the value of seed imports rose from $1 million 2009 to $45mn in 2019. He said most of the seeds came from Asean countries (Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines) while the government wants to curb the dependence on imported seed while encouraging local seed production for both domestic and export markets.

Chinese investors express interest in Myanmar marijuana potential

According to an article by Frontier Myanmar, Chinese companies have expressed interest in Myanmar’s potential cannabis industry, specifically for the cultivation of non-psychoactive cultivars of the species. The article also addresses various recent developments, challenges of legislation, and reform that would be needed to ensure the country’s cannabis industry to bud. In related news, on the topic of Myanmar cannabis investment challenges, this long-form journalistic piece, also published in February highlights the plight of one American investor, who despite possessing a permit issued by Mandalay’s chief minister to cultivate non-psychoactive cannabis on a farm in Mandalay, had last year been detained and imprisoned after the farm he had invested in was raided by authorities, who cited Myanmar’s 1993 Narcotics law. 

DECEMBER 2019 & JANUARY 2020

Myanmar Seed Fair 2020

Myanmar government and private seed industry reps organized the 2020 Seed Fair from January 28 to 30 at the Agricultural Science Training Center in Pyinmana, Nay Pyi Taw. The exhibition showcased some 150 varietiesin addition to farming and agricultural equipment. According to promotional content from the government, the purpose of the fair was to emphasize the value of quality seeds for ensuring healthy, pest-resistant, climate-resilient and productive crops, while ensuring farmers have access to such quality seeds through strong partnership between the public and private sectors.
 

Snakes employed to save rice crops from rat infestation

The Irrawaddy reports that government officials have released more than 200 non-venomous snakes in villages in Myanmar’s Shan State in a biological control effort to contain a rat-infestation. According to the article, many rice farmers’ crops were destroyed by the infestation before rodent experts with the Forestry Department employed the idea to deploy the snakes, which had been seized from smugglers.