Remarks as prepared for Paul Pleva, Director, USAID Office of Economic Growth in Myanmar: Domestic Market Opportunities for Myanmar…

Remarks as prepared for Paul Pleva, Director, USAID Office of Economic Growth in Myanmar:

Domestic Market Opportunities for Myanmar Agricultural Products

17 December 2020

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) strongly supports Myanmar’s on-going process of economic transformation.  We see enormous potential for this transformation to create greater, more inclusive, prosperity in Myanmar and strengthen friendship with the U.S.

A key piece in the economic transformation is finding and fostering new private sector business opportunities in the agriculture sector. USAID partners with Myanmar’s private sector to increase responsible investment and enable entrepreneurs to expand and grow their businesses.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of opening the webinar for International Market Opportunities. If you missed it, I encourage you to look up the replay on the Facebook page for Agriculture and Food Systems Development Activity. Today’s presentation takes a similar, detailed approach to look at domestic market opportunities.

Today’s report was prepared by Dr. Naing, and he will make the presentation today. This study outlines a wide range of opportunities right here in Myanmar. Thank you for this work Dr. Naing. 

USAID sees agriculture as an ideal entry point on many of the issues that are important to both Myanmar and the U.S.  First, agriculture growth is a fast route to increased prosperity and poverty reduction.  The majority of Myanmar’s workforce is still engaged directly or indirectly in agriculture. If we can increase incomes in agriculture, the result is a widespread increase in wealth.  Second, a strong agriculture sector promotes food security. Unexpected natural disasters such as cyclones, droughts, and floods put many at risk of food shortages. Other disruptions, such as the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic, can and are disrupting food systems. A prosperous and diversified agriculture sector is a strong remedy to these problems. Third, USAID supports agriculture because strong economic links between communities promotes social cohesion. Ethnic tensions have been a source of conflict in Myanmar over many decades. We believe that agriculture has the potential to create business linkages across communities such that conflict would be seen as detrimental to each group’s own interest, thus creating a true shared prosperity.

Today’s presentation translates these three high-level objectives into practical points of action.

Myanmar has a wealth of market opportunities. In other sessions, we’ve addressed the international opportunities in countries both near and far, covering at least 15 export markets. Today, we will hear about the preferences of over 700 consumers here in Myanmar. Additionally, the researchers interviewed dozens of supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and more to better understand end market buyers. The report also draws on a wide range of official data sources.

A savvy business knows which products to sell domestically while also developing products suited to the international market. To assist you, the report provides a variety of recommendations.

Before I close, allow me to suggest some action points:

First, we should all work to enhance quality across the value chain to meet market expectations. The presentation outlines numerous opportunities such as improved seed and better quality assurance systems. USAID is ready to support these upgrades.

Second, advertising will be important as the domestic market evolves. Advertising will both accelerate consumers’ shift to high quality food while also helping your products stand out.

Third, look for opportunities to build on existing markets such as livestock and agriculture that have higher value added, such as looking at wellness uses of traditional products such as ginger and turmeric.

To close, let me again thank everyone who contributed to today’s presentation. And thank you all for joining us.