2.1 Description of agriculture
2.2 Market liberalization and government policy
2.3 Data availability
Myanmar contains within its borders a wide range of agro-ecological zones. Rainfall varies from 5000 mm. in the Southern Coastal areas to about 800 mm. in the Central Dry Zone, altitude ranges from sea level to over 5000 meter and latitude from 10 to 29 degrees latitude.
There is, consequently, a wide variety of crops, including rice, maize and wheat, many kinds of beans and peas, oilseeds, potato, onion and garlic, many types of temperate and tropical fruits and vegetables, spices and industrial crops like sugarcane, cotton, rubber, cashew and oil palm.
Religion plays a very important role in life and in the economy, as large tracts of land are given over to pagodas, monasteries and meditation centers and flower cultivation (for temple offerings) occupies considerable agricultural land.
Under the Socialist Regime a strictly planned economy system prevailed. From 1988 liberalization was gradually introduced. Nevertheless there is presently still much regulation and the situation is different for each of the major crops. All land in rural areas is Government property, farmers have the right to cultivate, but not to sell. In practice it is common for farmers to lease out their land (or cultivation right) at up to Ks 150,000/acre. The Government collects land revenue, but the rate has been unchanged for many years and, with devaluation, the amount has become symbolical.
Rice is considered a "national crop", it is the farmers duty to grow rice on all paddy land during the main rainy season. However some paddy land has been designated for jute production. Farmers also need to apply each year for a license to grow crops, including paddy. The Myanma Agricultural Produce Trading (MAPT) operates a quota system and procures up to 12 baskets of paddy/acre at much below market price. Export of rice is a Gvt. monopoly.
Pulses are less controlled. A smaller quota is also imposed by MAPT, but most of the trade and export is in the hands of the private sector. Production and export of pulses has soared in recent years. Production and marketing of fruits and vegetables is completely free.
Cotton, sugarcane, jute, rubber and oil palm are largely controlled by Enterprises under MOAI. Farmers in designated areas around processing industries have an obligation to deliver their crops to the Enterprise. However, for most of these crops there are alternative outlets and private traders offer slightly higher prices.
Foreign trade is overseen by a high-level State Trade Council. Myanmar has a history of abrupt changes in Gvt. policy, concerning the level of the paddy quota, export bans and allowing imports of cheap palm oil. Such decisions are highly disruptive for the marketing process. The 10% export levy on all agricultural commodities, imposed on 1/1/99 is seen to be a big disincentive for foreign trade.
There is mass of very detailed crop statistics available, based on yearly records of all fields planted by all farmers. An agricultural sample census was taken a few years ago. The reliability of the annual statistics is unproven. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this project, there seems to be a good basis for identifying the major production areas and seasons for each crop.
The Department of Settlement and Land Records (SLRD) operated a detailed system of crop monitoring and production forecasting. This was interrupted for several years, but has been re-activated from this year. Reliable crop forecasts will be crucial for forecasting supply conditions and price trends by the MIS. The following crops will be covered: rice, ground nut, sesame, cotton, sugarcane, wheat and rubber. The general system is 3 forecasts and a final estimate (based on crop cutting survey).
Several Agencies collect prices, for example the Central Statistical Office collects daily retail prices on the main markets of Yangon, for the purpose of the Consumer Price Index. According to plan, prices will in future also be collected in other major Cities/Towns.