August 20, 2016

Reducing poverty through agricultural development

As a developing country with a population of some 52 million, Myanmar should make its agricultural policy effective enough to drive the economic development. Since 70% of the population works the farm in rural areas, the government needs to direct its effort to increased agricultural production.
The previous government vowed to bring down the country’s poverty rate from 26% to 16% in 2015. It did not meet its target. According to the Asian Development Bank’s statistics this year, 25.6% of the country’s population lives below the national poverty line, followed by the Philippines at 25.20% and Laos at 23.20%. That means the incumbent government has the responsibility to accomplish the unfinished work.
The government should focus its development strategy on the inclusive growth concept by expanding economic opportunities to all rural farmers. They need cultivable land and farm machinery to grow food. It is globally accepted that farmers play a key role in feeding the whole population of the world, which is projected to hit 9 billion by 2050.
Poor agricultural policies will result in poor agricultural production, thereby harming agricultural development. Undeniably, agricultural development can drive economic growth as it can raise incomes, improve food security and maintain soil health. Agriculturalists have advocated that healthy soil sustains ecosystems such as nutrient cycling, water regulation, flood prevention and habitats for biodiversity.
Having led a simple life in rural areas, farmers will find it difficult to adapt themselves to land management and technology. The onus is on the government to render intensive and extensive support to them in terms of advanced farming practices and agricultural loans. Helping farmers is helping others after all.


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