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July 17, 2020

Elevate food production and food safety standards

A worker watering chilli plantation Padigon Township in Pyay District. Photo: Phoe Khwar
A worker watering chilli plantation Padigon Township in Pyay District. Photo: Phoe Khwar

Food is a more basic need of man than shelter and clothing. It provides adequate nutrients for the body’s growth, maintenance, repair and reproduction. Myanmar is an agriculture-based country that relied on the agriculture sector and the majority of the country’s population were peasants and farmers. The Government was establishing a long term agriculture production system that supported the socio-economic development of rural people and the country’s economic development through increased production of agriculture products that could compete internationally.

Food safety is the first
World Health Organization said the number of chemicals applied to vegetable crops has increased by up to 17 fold in 40 years, data shows, as the organic food industry and scientists have warned that consumers are exposed to a “toxic cocktail” of pesticides.
Myanmar depends on its agricultural sector and is critically important to learn how to use pesticides systematically. Climate change is causing a reduction in crop production with the rain acting out of pattern.
All of us indiscriminately cut down our forests and use excessive insecticides and pesticides in our agriculture, and the farming sector is now facing the consequences of it. More agricultural loans are required so that high interest loans from other sources need not be depended on.
The excessive use of chemicals can be attributed to inadequate infrastructure in the agricultural sector, weak fiscal policies, market deficiencies, lack of widespread usage of modern agricultural systems and an efficient working environment, and absence of coordination among cultivators.
There are laws and bylaws necessary for the development of Myanmar’s agricultural sector that have yet to be drafted. Educational programs in ethnic languages would also be beneficial.

Role of trust and reliability in business sector
The agriculture sector is one of the most important sectors for Myanmar’s economy, contributing 30 per cent to Myanmar’s GDP and 25 per cent of the country’s exports.
Our country is based on agriculture and our agriculture products had good names. As lifestyles develop and change people are demanding safe food. Our farmers and peasants are to use pesticides and chemical only when it is absolutely necessary.
Excessive use of chemicals will have bad consequences on our agriculture products both in local and international markets.
Trust and reliability are important in business. Once trust is lost, it would be hard to restore it. Our farmers and peasants must be responsible producers for our consumers.
We are competing in the global market. We must be up to the standard set by the world. Developed countries are careful about their health. They take great care towards ensuring the safety of the food they consume.
If our agriculture products were not up to the standard set by the world, it’ll be difficult for us to enter the world market. We need to think long term and don’t look at short term gains. Using excessive pesticides will kill pest quickly but the outcome is getting less price for the product. Sometimes, it might become unsaleable. So look long term and put in effort towards producing world standard food.
Our agriculture sector is competing with the world. We must always look at the situation of other countries. In an age when we are competing with the world, we must put in our effort and develop.
World organizations had predicted our country to have the fastest development rate. Even though this is an encouragement, it must be noted that we need to do it. We could not relax because we were predicted to have the fastest development rate. Our farmers, the banks and the business persons are obliged to work hand in hand to develop the agriculture sector.

Elevate food production and food safety standards
Food safety starts with farmers and continues through the value chain of food manufacturing and services, via packing houses, value-added operations, and points of sale, before reaching the consumer.
In recent years, the government has raised awareness among farmers growing vegetables and fruits to adopt the GAP system, so as to ensure that food produced is of a certified level of quality and safety.
We can help our farmers to unlock the potential of the local agriculture and livestock and fisheries sector and foster export opportunities by providing training likes GAP and organic cultivation to them to produce the food meeting international standards.
By providing trainings around food safety, crop production handling and good agricultural practices, we are allowing food producers to meet international standards.
For ensuring food safety, the GAP guidelines can help the farmers to implement systems and procedures at their farm to ensure that they mitigate the risk of contamination from the process of growing and harvesting, to storage and transportation.
Meanwhile, the government is obliged to find more local and foreign markets for food produced with GAP guidelines so that farmers can sell their goods at profitable prices with confidence.
Reports in September last year said that the price of sesame cultivated under Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) fetched a good price on account of strong demand from Japan and China, allowing growers to earn a healthy profit.
According to traders, regular sesame seeds are priced at K260,000 per bag, while sesame produced under GAP is fetching K272,000 per bag at present.
It was found that to meet GAP standards, the Agriculture Department has joined hands with Japanese agriculturists for survey and research. Awareness-raising campaigns have also helped reap fruitful results.
Black sesame seeds from Myanmar are also exported to South Korea and Japan. Meanwhile, China purchases various coloured sesame seeds from the country.
For the GAP system to be successful, there must be proper adherence to the administration, from the most basic aspect of choosing proper farmland to storing crops, as well as documenting all steps of the process for reviewing and training purposes.
This would ensure that agricultural products are safe for consumers and trading. He suggested establishing stores that sell GAP agricultural produce in every city and providing GAP training at agricultural education centres.
Meanwhile, to ensure safe crops at every market in the country, the staff of the agricultural department would need additional training to carry out the GAP regulations on a nationwide scale.
It is important for farmers to accept and use the GAP system as they thought best. To provide every department with proper equipment and to ensure that farmers practice the GAP system, we need an investment from local and foreign agro sector.


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