Opportunities and challenges of Myanmar pulses sector revisited during back-to-back ATMI-ASEAN national events

  • By Loise Ann M. Carandang
  • 9 September 2019

Project partners and experts on pulses sector of Myanmar gather for the roundtable discussion. Photo by Mr. Aung Myint Myat, MOALI-DOPProject partners and experts on pulses sector of Myanmar gather for the roundtable discussion. Photo by Mr. Aung Myint Myat, MOALI-DOP

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar – The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Department of Planning of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI-DOP) organized its second back-to-back national-level events under the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded project Agricultural Transformation and Market Integration in the ASEAN Region: Responding to Food Security and Inclusiveness Concerns (ATMI-ASEAN) on 13-14 August 2019 here.

The first activity was the roundtable discussion (RTD) on Policy Recommendations of the Study on Pulses in Myanmar held on 13 August 2019 at Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort. The RTD aimed to discuss the preliminary results of the rapid value chain study on pulses titled Assessing Transformation and Integration of Pulses Sector in Myanmar: Responding to Food Security and Inclusiveness Project, which is currently being conducted by the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) under the ATMI-ASEAN Project. The discussions revolved around the current status of the pulses industry, opportunities and challenges encountered, as well as policy recommendations as to how to further strengthen and support the sector in Myanmar. The RTD also served as a guide for the Myanmar Technical Working Group (TWG) in relation to the possible national technical assistance (TA) activities of the ATMI-ASEAN Project for Myanmar.

Mr. Kyaw Min Oo, Permanent Secretary of MOALI, welcomed the participants and guests. He thanked IFAD, and the implementing agencies, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and SEARCA, for the ATMI-ASEAN Project, its research and capacity building activities and initiatives in Myanmar.

Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, Program Head of SEARCA's Research and Development Department (RDD), delivered a message on behalf of the Center and the project. Expressing admiration over the good infrastructure of Nay Pyi Taw, he stated that these kinds of investments are important to the value chain because of their contribution to efficient product movements and ease of access to services by small-scale rural producers in the country. Dr. Orencio recognized the timeliness of the RTD for deliberating on the ways to improve the value chain of pulses through a policy study, having been one of the major exporters of this commodity in the region. He added that agricultural transformation and market integration are keys to Myanmar's economic development, and that being part of the IFAD-funded ATMI-ASEAN Project has been a good opportunity for improving the agricultural sector. Dr. Orencio appreciated MOALI-DOP for leading the project in Myanmar; CESD for the policy research study, and the speakers and participants who came to contribute to the discussion.

MOALI-DOP and SEARCA invited speakers representing the various stakeholders involved in Myanmar's pulses sector such as government agencies, research institutions, the academe, and the private sector to contribute in the discussion. The resource speakers were:

Ms. Ngu Wah Win, Senior Policy Coordinator, CESD, who presented the key findings of the ATMI-ASEAN policy study on pulses; Dr. Theingi Myint, Professor, Yezin Agricultural University (YAU), who shared an empirical study on the current transformations in the pulses sector and possible ways forward; Dr. Htein Lynn, Director, Myanmar Trade, Ministry of Commerce, who explained in detail the pulses value chain in Myanmar; Mr. Soe Win Maung, Advisor, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), who tackled the private sector's involvement in the development of pulses industry and its market; Mr. Khin Maung Nyunt, Director, Department of Agriculture, MOALI, who provided an overview of the sector as well as the developmental challenges it faces as perceived by local farmers; Dr. Tun Shwe, Director, Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), who explored the adoption of improved pulses varieties and; Dr. Thanda Kyi, Deputy Director General, MOALI-DOP, who presented the government's current and planned policy initiatives in relation to the development of the pulses sector in Myanmar and its potential for market diversification.

Ms. Bernice Anne C. Darvin, Program Specialist of SEARCA-RDD, and Mr. Jimmy B. Williams, ATMI-ASEAN Project Support Unit (PSU) Coordinator, facilitated the open forum that followed the presentations. Priority was given to the farmers' representatives in order to hear their perspective and create a holistic picture of how the Myanmar pulses sector is currently performing. The program was officially closed by Dr. Thanda Kyi on behalf of MOALI.

The second activity was the 3rd Myanmar TWG Meeting which was held on 14 August 2019 at MOALI-DOP's office. Mr. Kyaw Swe Linn, Director General of MOALI-DOP and chair of the TWG, facilitated the discussions. DOP then presented their accomplished, ongoing, and planned activities under the ATMI-ASEAN project. The group likewise provided their feedback on the proposed roadmap development activity under the TA component of the project. Upcoming activities, both national and regional, including the ATMI-ASEAN Project's TA package for Myanmar, were presented by SEARCA for the TWG's consideration.

The Myanmar TWG consists of representatives from MOALI, other relevant ministries, the academe, research institutions, farmers' union and/or organizations, and the private sector.