The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is negotiating between the governments of Myanmar and Thailand for foreign travellers to pass through Mese Gate BP-13 for 7-day trips but local residents of Mae Hong Son province are currently allowed 3-day trips
up to Loikaw after receiving approval from the Union Government through the Kayah State Government.
This was part of Union Minister U Thein Swe’s reply to a question raised by MP U Pe Du of Prusho constituency during the 19th-day meeting of the Second Pyithu Hluttaw’s 13th Regular Session yesterday.
The MP’s question focused on whether foreign travellers going through Mese Gate BP-13 to Loikaw will be allowed 3-day and 7-day trips. The Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population also said both countries are still negotiating to officially open the border gate. He said his ministry will allow the 7-day trips if an agreement is reached between both governments and the Union Government approves.
Sufficient irrigation & floodgate advantages
Next, MP U Tun Tun of Pwintbyu constituency raised a question on whether there were alternative plans to distribute irrigation in Pwintbyu Township should Mone Hydropower Station or Kyee Ohn Kyee Wa Hydropower Station receive inadequate water or suffer mechanical failures.
Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kyaw replied that in the event the hydropower stations stop working or the Mone Creek reservoir and Kyee Ohn Kyee Wa reservoir are hit with a drought, they will release irrigation water through the canals built in the reservoirs.
Next, MP U Nyunt Aung of Monywa constituency raised a question on whether there were plans to safeguard the farmlands and natural resources deteriorating from the lack of high water levels from the Chindwin River after blocking Paukpin Village Creek south of Monywa.
U Hla Kyaw replied that there is no damage to local natural resources since floodgates have been installed on Pauk Pin Creek and allows floodwater to be diverted away from human settlements, used for irrigation, and allow fish and prawns easy access.
Following this, Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker U T Khun Myat announced the assembly has received the Rural Region Development Bill returned by the Amyotha Hluttaw with amendments and called for MPs interested in submitting amendment proposals to register their names.
Motion urging safer agricultural practices
The assembly then debated the motion tabled by MP U Myint Thein of Wetlet constituency, urging the Union Government to provide training for systematic use of fertilizers and pesticides to ensure agricultural products are safe for consumption and to prevent damage to the ecosystem and to closely monitor the import and distribution of highly potent chemicals.
U Sai Okkar of Laikha constituency said a developing country like Myanmar depends on its agricultural sector and is critically important to learn how to use pesticides systematically. He said climate change is causing a reduction in crop production with the rain acting out of pattern.
He said the excessive use of chemicals is a result of 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 no coordination among the cultivators.
U Sai Okkar said there are laws and bylaws necessary to the development of Myanmar’s agricultural sector that have yet to be drafted, and also advised having educational programmes in ethnic languages.
Call for top-down assessment of agri-sector
Next, MP U Sein Win of Maubin constituency supported the motion, remarking the mover’s good intentions of systematic usage of pesticide and pushing for greater awareness of the technology. He said cultivators need to be able to assess when their crops need to be sprayed with pesticides and whether all or a portion of them. He suggested the Union Government to organize for natural fertilizers to be sold in all townships.
Following this, MP U Tin Ko Ko Oo (a) U A Tut of Bilin constituency said that rather than the Hluttaw debating the motion, the time is right for the Union Government to carefully assess the entire agricultural sector.
He said simply providing awareness training is not enough as the situation requires a solution to be implemented, otherwise the people will continue to suffer from the negative consequences of fertilizers and pesticides. He said all relevant ministries should focus more on the resulting situation than what processes they have implemented before other sectors are affected by the noncommunicable diseases caused by the circumstances outlined in the motion.
Ministries have processes in control
Next, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kyaw responded to the motion. He said his ministry scrutinizes the situation in accordance with the fertilizer import approval from the committee outlined in the Fertilizer Law and the pesticide import approval and price approval from the pesticide licensing group after which the Department of Trade approves the import license.
The Deputy Minister said the Customs Department reviews whether the imported commodities match the information outlined in the import license. He said every trade route into the country is regularly monitored to prevent illegal imports and the state/regional governments form special task forces to apprehend illegal importing as well.
He said the Consumer Affairs Department monitors all commodities in the market across the states and regions and confiscates or destroys harmful products and takes other necessary action. In addition, they also provide the necessary education and have been doing all these processes since 2017, said the Deputy Minister.
He said the Department of Agriculture follows the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to ensure agri-products are safe, and conducts awareness raising campaigns to reduce pesticide usage, combine multiprotection systems for crops and ensure safe use of pesticides.
The Deputy Minister said that since all relevant ministries already have processes in place that work towards the content mentioned in the motion, the assembly should simply put it on record. The Speaker then asked for the mover’s opinion who replied for the motion to be put on record. After gathering the deliberation of the Hluttaw and receiving no opposition, the Speaker announced that the motion will be put on record.
The 20th-day meeting of Second Pyithu Hluttaw’s 13th Regular Session will be held tomorrow. —Aye Aye Thant, Kyaw Zin Htike (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)