Helping farmers produce safe products, reaching markets is sine qua non
- The setting up of trading centres in townships, on the lines of farmers markets, is a step towards establishing a farmers’ market system, which can boost the economic and environmental sustainability of local agriculture.
The Ministry of Commerce has established trading centres in regions and states where local farmers can trade their produce. The centres are similar to farmers markets, and so far, 65 centres have been set up in Yangon, Ayeyawady, Bago, Sagaing, and Magway regions, and Shan, Mon, Kachin, Kayah, and Rakhine states.
The trading centres can be considered as links between producers and consumers in a direct market, and through such direct engagement between farmers and consumers, farmers can become more willing to reduce chemical inputs to meet customer demand.
To ensure that both consumers and farmers benefit from the system, arrangements must be made to fix basic prices for agricultural and livestock products, and to improve production chains to ensure food safety.
The ministry, on its part, is making arrangements to provide farmers with quality seeds, good breeds of livestock animals, technology, and to help them be competitive in the market. It is also conducting government-to-government negotiations to expand the export market.
To establish a farmers’ market system, farmers’ organizations need to be formed, which can control the market. Farmers’ groups play a key role in operating a farmers’ market system.
At the moment, the Union Government is supporting farmers to make sure that they have the capability for cooperative work and corporate investment. Only then can they form such farmers’ groups.
Post-harvest infrastructure, such as storage and distribution facilities, is vital to a farmers’ market, according to the current market-oriented economic system. To implement the farmers’ market system, we need time and space to improve such facilities and to encourage practices which can enable a sustainable market situation.
For local development and to solidify community pride in the quality of locally grown products and livestock products, we need to encourage a farmers’ market system.
We welcome the motion tabled before the Pyithu Hluttaw for setting up a farmers’ market system.
In the current situation, there may be barriers to the establishment of a farmers’ market system, such as lack of adequate funding, staffing, information, energy and waste diversion infrastructure, and sustainable packaging and collaboration, all of which make it difficult to understand and implement circular economy practices at a citywide level.
However, we must not lose sight of our ambition of establishing a farmers’ market system, and we must work towards this goal step by step.