An important milestone in knowledge sharing between CABI and two geographical neighbours in Asia has been reached at a recent summit in Myanmar. CABI has facilitated cross-partner cooperation between China and Myanmar, which are important member countries of CABI, with the potential to improve crops for millions of farmers.
The cooperation statement, signed by Mr Aung Hlaing, Deputy Director General of Department of Agricultural Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Professor Zhang Lubiao, Director General of International Collaboration of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and CABI Switzerland Regional Director Ulrich Kuhlmann, represents the exchange of agricultural and educational resources. For Myanmar’s young researchers, extension workers and farmers, it is a new doorway to much-needed training from CABI and the CAAS.
As it now stands, the situation for famers in Myanmar is an urgent one. “The agricultural sector is the back bone of Myanmar’s economy as the entire agricultural sector contributes 30% of its current GDP,” reports Agricultural Minister Myint Hlaing of Myanmar. “In addition, 61% of the country’s labour force is working in the agricultural sector.”
Solutions to increase crop production, improve farmer income and change livelihood outcomes in Myanmar may lie just over the border in China. CAAS has already been working with CABI on other research and development projects in Myanmar, funded by DEVCO and the European commission, to increase maize and rice production. With 32 research institutes and over 7,000 scientists, its resources are immense. Myanmar will take part in future scientific workshops with CAAS, student scholarships, fact finding visits, and the construction of state-of-the-art facilities for collaborative agricultural research.
CABI Switzerland will also provide training and resources to support this partnership, first by hosting exchange researchers in Switzerland and second, by working towards implementation of Plantwise in Myanmar. The Plantwise global plant health initiative is already operating in China, and in 24 countries worldwide providing advice for farmers.
“One of the major economic objectives is to build a modern industrialized nation through the development of the agricultural sector,” says H.E. Minister, “In order to support rural development and poverty reduction.”
By strengthening open exchange between member countries like China and Myanmar, CABI facilitates this important process of cooperation in development. After over 50 years of isolation, it is instrumental to provide capacity building in Myanmar through training of young farmers and extension officers, thereby providing the base for good agricultural practices. From the very beginning, it is vital to consider local needs and conditions to improve crop production and thereby increase food security.
Next steps include paving the way for a sustainable and profitable market infrastructure, or market access abroad, to assist farmers in obtaining a fair price for their produce.
Myanmar is in a time of transition, building bridges through science and agricultural research. For CABI, building these bridges is at the heart of membership commitment and key to using knowledge to improve livelihoods.