September 26, 2019
Key Findings from the USAID Food Security Policy Project (2014 – 2019)
This has been a time of dramatic change in rural Myanmar.
The following findings stand out:
(1) Access to public infrastructure has expanded greatly since 2011.
(2) Rural mobility is improving. Travel times from villages to nearby urban centers fell by one third or more over the last five years, due to road improvements and the growth of motorcycle ownership and transport services.
(3) Rural credit has formalized and diversified. Rates of interest charged on informal loans have fallen sharply as a result.
(4) Numbers of rural businesses have grown rapidly, and the rate of establishment has increased, generating new rural livelihood opportunities outside agriculture.
(5) Migration (both domestic and international) has become a pervasive feature of life in all areas surveyed and a major driver of change in the rural economy.
(6) Real rural wages (adjusted for inflation) increased by around 40% in Delta and Dry Zone in just five years, as workers became scarcer due to migration.
(7) Farming is mechanizing quickly. For example, half of all paddy farms in the Delta used a combine harvester in 2016, up from almost zero in 2013. Mechanization has been enabled by hire purchase loans from private banks, the ability for farmers to use land certificates as loan collateral, the falling cost of imported machines, and a boom in private machinery rental services.
(8) The profitability and productivity of many of the major crops farmed remains limited by irrigation access and the limited availability of improved seeds.
(9) Other crops such as hybrid maize in Shan have experienced extremely rapid growth.
(10) Development of fish farms has created jobs and large economic multipliers.