Author: Oak Kyaw Hein | 08 Nov 2017
A farm that uses a tractor to grow rice near U Bein bridge in Mandalay
Foreign companies have been eying Myanmar’s agriculture sector for investment, as they see many opportunities to improve farming, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).
‘‘Countries such as Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Brunei have been showing interest in joint ventures to invest within the rice production sector,’’ U Aung Than Oo, Secretary of Myanmar Rice Federation, said.
It is important for the struggling rice sector to access foreign markets for export, which will help farmers to generate more income. Myanmar has entered to the list of global major rice exporters, and now has access to 53 countries including European and African countries.
Myanmar’s rice production is facing challenges with things like low production yields, low quality yields, high production cost, and high cost of storage and distribution, much of which is the result of a lack of infrastructure and technology, according to MRF.
Investors are interested in providing things like productive seeds, fertilizers, crop safeguards, farming equipment, and related technologies to farmers. Joint venture companies are also working with the farmers to buy rice with fixed prices.
MRF has urged the government to adopt clear rules and regulations in order to make foreign investment easier for joint ventures with local farmers including legal protections for foreign investors.
Foreign investment in the agriculture sector is relatively low when compared to other sectors such as garment sector. There was approximately $130 million foreign direct investment (FDI) in the agriculture sector from April to September 2017, according to the data from Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).
There was $138 million FDI in the agriculture sector in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, which ended in April 2011. The 2012 fiscal year had no investments, the 2013 fiscal year had $9.69 million, the 2014 fiscal year had $20.26 million, the 2015 fiscal year had $39.66 million, and the 2016 fiscal year had $7.18 million, There was also no investment in the agriculture sector for the 2017 fiscal year, according to statistics of Myanmar Investment Commission.