MOALI Permanent Secretary Dr. Tin Htut formally opened the meeting by delivering his Welcome Remarks, saying that the ATMI-ASEAN project is an exemplary regional endeavor for the CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam) as well as the Philippines to share their country experiences in agriculture. Dr. Tin Htut, likewise, recognized the potential role the project can play in helping Myanmar develop sensible market systems at the time when the country is at its crossroads. His Excellency expressed his sincere appreciation to the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) for their continued cooperation with MOALI.
DOP Deputy Director General Mr. Kyaw Swe Lin, focal point for ATMI-ASEAN in Myanmar, reiterated in his Participatory Remarks, the importance of markets. He explained that most of the country's agricultural produce are being exported to neighboring countries, but Myanmar often deals with unstable demand and supply as well as fluctuating market prices. Thus, with the Myanmar Agriculture Development Strategy 2020-2025 in the works, it is beneficial to know how the country could respond to the challenges of food security and market integration. Some possible solutions he cited include efficient marketing systems, trade promotion, and product commercialization.
Dr. Thanda Kyi, Director of DOP, introduced ATMI-ASEAN to the members of the TWG. She shared the objectives, activities, expected outputs and outcomes of the project, as well as the events that have already been done. She, likewise, presented an overview of the recently signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between SEARCA and MOALI-DOP by discussing the responsibilities of both parties in relation to the project. Mr. Jimmy B. Williams, Project Support Unit (PSU) Coordinator for ATMI-ASEAN, stressed the important role of the TWG, especially in relation to the conduct of the national-level policy study on pulses in Myanmar.
Representing CESD Executive Director Dr. Zaw Oo, Mr. Min Zar Ni Lin, CESD Deputy Director of Research, presented an overview of the planned Value Chain Study for Pulses Sector in Myanmar. He provided a quick background on the current state of the pulses sector in the country, and discussed the objectives, methodology, timeline, and expected outputs of the policy research. Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi, Director of IFPRI-South Asia, agreed on the need to study the pulses sector in Myanmar, because it is one of the country's most important agricultural products and top export commodities. Dr. Joshi expressed IFPRI's willingness to collaborate with CESD and MOALI in the conduct of the pulses study. After a thorough discussion on the proposed research, the TWG agreed that the study should cover the whole pulses sector instead of focusing only on one variant.
The Myanmar TWG is currently composed of representatives from MOALI-DOP, CESD, Department of Agriculture of MOALI, Myanmar Trade Promotion Organization, Yezin Agricultural University, Agriculture and Farmers Federation of Myanmar, and the Myanmar Agriculture Network, which is the Grow Asia platform in the country. A total of 22 participants attended the meeting with IFPRI and SEARCA delegates as observers. (Bernice Anne C. Darvin)