U.S. and Myanmar University Experts Collaborate to Improve Farm Incomes and Nutrition

September 6, 2019

Nay Pyi Taw – A U.S. government program is helping Myanmar’s farmers and their families through improved understanding of the ongoing transformations in the country’s rural economy. Seventy percent of rural households in Myanmar depend on agriculture for nutrition and as a source of income – either directly through production or through wage labor. Understanding how the rural economy is changing helps the Government of Myanmar form better policies and programs to improve nutrition and livelihoods for farming families. For example, 2017 survey data from Myanmar’s dry zone shows employment opportunities are increasing as farmers move from subsistence farming to participating in the commercial market. The dry zone runs from Magway to Mandalay and is home to a third of Myanmar’s population.

From September 2-6, American experts from Michigan State University worked with Myanmar counterparts to better understand these trends through a research skills and data analysis workshop. Their work will help the government ensure no one is left behind as the country transitions to a market economy.

Through their workshop at the Yezin Agricultural University Department of Agricultural Economics, analysts from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI) and the university faculty worked with Michigan State University experts to analyze the data collected in targeted agricultural regions over five years through a U.S. assistance program. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Food Security Policy Project works with Myanmar partners to collect and analyze data, support MOALI to establish their first ever Agriculture Policy Unit, and promote better research, seed, irrigation and other areas addressed in Myanmar’s Agriculture Development Strategy. The USAID Food Security Policy Project began in 2014 and will continue until 2020 to help improve the lives of farmers across Myanmar and support efforts to transform the rural economy of the country.

Visiting the workshop on September 5, USAID Mission Director Teresa McGhie said, “It is important that farmers and people in all areas benefit from economic transformations in Myanmar.” She added, “This is why USAID is happy to see our Myanmar colleagues use this data, which can inform their decisions on how to develop the agriculture sector, nutrition, and rural livelihoods across the country.” In the past five years, the USAID project’s data have informed the Myanmar government, development partners, and civil society about the potential to improve livelihoods of farmers.

The United States is dedicated to supporting efforts to improve the lives of farmers and people across Myanmar. One way that USAID does this is by building national capacity to use data for policy-making so that Myanmar’s ongoing economic transformation can support its democratic transition to benefit the people. This workshop is part of the overall efforts by the United States to foster inclusive and transparent policy processes in Myanmar that benefit the people of this country.

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