29 JUN 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times - Myanmar has approved a K92 billion COVID-19 relief plan for the domestic food production industry, U Hla Kyaw, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said on June 26. The approved funding will enable the ministry to support people in the rural areas amid the pandemic.
Under the government's plan, nearly K15 billion will be spent on establishing contract farming jobs on 100,000 acres of farmland. Investment capital totalling K41 billion will be allocated to more than 1700 villages in all the states and regions.
Around K25 billion will be used to acquire and distribute agricultural machinery to farmers in 11 regions and states including Nay Pyi Taw. Furthermore, about K6 billion will be spent on assisting local fish farms and training, while K1.5 billion will be used to create jobs in the livestock industry in 100 townships.
"The goal is to create jobs for as many people as possible. Our plan will benefit more than 120,000 families," said U Hla Kyaw.
The plan was announced on the same day the World Bank approved a US$200 million credit from the International Development Association to increase agricultural productivity and diversification and enhance market access for Myanmar farmers.
The funds will go towards supporting income retention for farmers by improving the quality and utilisation of agricultural inputs, and generate labour-intensive cash-for work-activities to create jobs for poor households, in particular for migrants returning to Myanmar.
U Ye Tun Win, Director General of the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department Department, said the World Bank and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation are discussing allocating $4 million to build cold storage facilities for small livestock businesses in Yangon, Bago and Ayeyarwady regions. Private sector cooperation is expected.
As a result of travel restrictions in the country during COVID-19, business owners suffered losses from the wastage of perishable livestock products such as eggs.
Agriculture is the source of livelihood for nearly 70pc of the population and accounts for nearly a third of national GDP and merchandise exports.
According to the World Bank, economic growth is estimated to drop from 6.8pc in fiscal 2018-19 to just 0.5pc in fiscal 2019-20, with significant downside risks.