Myanmar Seed Industry News 2020

This page features a compilation and selection of Myanmar seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the Union of Myanmar. 

The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.

This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.

May 2020

400,000 acres to be ‘harnessed’ for rice seed, other crops

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) has announced agriculture relief plans. Myanmar Times reports on the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) which includes the “harnessing” of 400,000 acres of farmland, which includes a joint venture with the Myanmar Rice Federation to produce seeds on half the land, with the other half to  be used for harvesting of other crops. The news was reported in a story about a survey of the livestock industry which has suffered in recent months. 

WUR assesses Myanmar seed sector challenges 

Myanmar was among four developing countries whose seed sectors were assessed by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and collaborating partners as part of efforts to “identify priority steps for enhancing food systems’ resilience in low and middle income countries” and “to identify current challenges and urgent action in Myanmar’s seed sector, based on surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders.” The full assessment can be found here. The Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation also conducted the seed sector assessments for Nigeria, Uganda and Ethiopia. 

March 2020

Myanmar ‘has enough food’

The President Spokesman’s office has offered assurance as the passage of goods across the China-Myanmar border had stopped and reports the India-Myanmar border had also been closed due to fears of the spread of the Coronavirus. 

February 2020

Seed imports surge by 45x in 10 years

The Myanmar Times has quoted Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, U Aung Thu as noting that the value of seed imports rose from $1 million 2009 to $45mn in 2019. He said most of the seeds came from Asean countries (Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines) while the government wants to curb the dependence on imported seed while encouraging local seed production for both domestic and export markets.

Chinese investors express interest in Myanmar marijuana potential

According to an article by Frontier Myanmar, Chinese companies have expressed interest in Myanmar’s potential cannabis industry, specifically for the cultivation of non-psychoactive cultivars of the species. The article also addresses various recent developments, challenges of legislation, and reform that would be needed to ensure the country’s cannabis industry to bud. In related news, on the topic of Myanmar cannabis investment challenges, this long-form journalistic piece, also published in February highlights the plight of one American investor, who despite possessing a permit issued by Mandalay’s chief minister to cultivate non-psychoactive cannabis on a farm in Mandalay, had last year been detained and imprisoned after the farm he had invested in was raided by authorities, who cited Myanmar’s 1993 Narcotics law. 

DECEMBER 2019 & JANUARY 2020

Myanmar Seed Fair 2020

Myanmar government and private seed industry reps organized the 2020 Seed Fair from January 28 to 30 at the Agricultural Science Training Center in Pyinmana, Nay Pyi Taw. The exhibition showcased some 150 varietiesin addition to farming and agricultural equipment. According to promotional content from the government, the purpose of the fair was to emphasize the value of quality seeds for ensuring healthy, pest-resistant, climate-resilient and productive crops, while ensuring farmers have access to such quality seeds through strong partnership between the public and private sectors.
Snakes employed to save rice crops from rat infestation

The Irrawaddy reports that government officials have released more than 200 non-venomous snakes in villages in Myanmar’s Shan State in a biological control effort to contain a rat-infestation. According to the article, many rice farmers’ crops were destroyed by the infestation before rodent experts with the Forestry Department employed the idea to deploy the snakes, which had been seized from smugglers.