Aquaculture in Myanmar: Fish Farm Technology, Production Economics and Management

Myanmar Aquaculture-Agriculture Survey: Results Dissemination Workshop

Aquaculture in Myanmar: Fish Farm Technology, Production Economics and Management

Ben Belton, Michigan State University
Mateusz Filipski, International Food Policy Research Institute
Chaoran Hu, Michigan State University

USAID Burma and LIFT
Sedona Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar
June 30, 2017

Fish farming (aquaculture) has grown rapidly in Myanmar over the last two decades and plays an increasingly important role in national fish supply, but its technical and economic characteristics have been poorly studied. The Myanmar Aquaculture-Agriculture Survey (MAAS) addressed this knowledge gap as the first statistically representative survey of fish farms conducted in Myanmar.

A total of 242 fish farming households (151 growout farms and 73 nurseries) were interviewed in 25 village tracts, as part of a larger survey that covered 1102 rural households in 40 village tracts in the main fish growing townships in Myanmar: Maubin, Nyaundong, Twantay and Kayan, in Ayeyarwady and Yangon regions. Survey results provide a ‘benchmark’ of the characteristics of aquaculture in Myanmar.

Key results are as follows:
(1) Aquaculture generates much higher earnings per hectare than crop farming.
The average profit earned by fish farmers is nearly $650/acre ($1600/ha). Surveyed rice and pulses farming households make an average annual profit of just $150/acre ($380/ha).

(2) Aquaculture creates more on-farm employment opportunities than agriculture.
Considering all inputs of family labor, hired casual labor and hired long-term labor, fish farms require almost four times more labor per acre than crop farms.

(3) Small fish farms create much more employment than large fish farms.
Small growout farms generate demand for 152 person days of labor per acre/year. Medium sized and large growout farms generate demand for 41 days and 17 days, respectively.

(4) Small farms dominate by number, large farms dominate by area.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom that Myanmar’s fish farms are all very large, half (51%) of all growout farms are less than 10 acres in size.

(5) Yields of fish are modest.
The average yield across all fish farms was 1.9 t/acre (4.8 t/ha). This level is comparable to yields in Bangladesh, but approximately half as much as India.

(6) Productivity is highly variable.
The worst performing 20% of farms have yields 11 times lower than the best performing 20% of farms. Much of this variability can be accounted for by differences in investment capacity - the best performing farms spend almost nine times more on operating costs than the least productive. These differences are linked to access to credit – bigger farms have better access to credit.

Based on these findings, we make the following recommendations:

  • Fish farming should be recognized and promoted as a mechanism for generating rural growth;
  • Small farms (sized 10 acres or less) and nurseries should be the principal target of policy and technical interventions;
  • Identify mechanisms for providing commercial loans, tailored to the needs of smaller farms and actors in aquaculture value chains.
  • Encourage private investment in the feed sector to increase competitiveness, lower feed prices

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