Crop Production and Profitability in Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon Regions

Myanmar Aquaculture-Agriculture Survey: Results Dissemination Workshop
Crop Production and Profitability in Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon Regions

Ame Cho, Centre for Economic and Social Development

USAID Burma and LIFT
Yangon, Myanmar
June 30, 2017

ABSTRACT
Agriculture is central to Myanmar’s rural economy, and Ayeyarwady and Yangon regions are the country’s ‘rice bowl’, but few detailed data are available on the characteristics of agriculture in this important location. The Myanmar Aquaculture-Agriculture Survey (MAAS) addressed this knowledge gap through a statistically representative survey of 329 agricultural households in Maubin, Nyaundong, Twantay and Kayan townships, in Ayeyarwady and Yangon regions, as part of a larger survey of 1102 rural households.

The following key results stand out:
(1) Levels of landlessness are high. 56% of households had no agricultural land at all.

(2) Most farms are small, and land is unequally distributed. 49% of households have <5 acres of land, and the third of households with the smallest landholdings own just 3% of all crop land (an average of 1.5 acres each).

(3) Monsoon paddy dominates production in monsoon season (when virtually all farmers produce it), but green gram and dry season paddy are the two most important crops in terms of income.

(4) The smallest farms are the most diversified, earning proportionally more of their incomes from vegetables, livestock and other crops than large farms, whereas large farms most of their incomes from dry season paddy.

(5) Access to irrigation in dry season is limited, with the smallest farms having the least access.

(6) Average paddy yields are low in comparison to most other Asian countries, at 3.3 t/ha.

(7) Average profits from the main field crops are low. The most widely grown crop, monsoon paddy, generates a net return of just $88/acre. Dry season paddy generates a higher return ($157/acre) but also has high production costs. Green gram produces the highest average returns, at $267/acre, and has intermediate production costs.

(8) Casual labor, fertilizers and agricultural machinery account for the majority of production costs for paddy and green gram. Farms that use combine harvesters to harvest paddy use less than half as much labor as farms that harvest paddy manually.

(9) Farms of all sizes are very strongly commercially oriented. For example, farms producing monsoon paddy (including the smallest) sell three quarters of the paddy they produce. An even higher percentage of dry season paddy and green gram is sold.

(10) The share of households using herbicides, and improved varieties of seed for monsoon season paddy cultivation increased significantly between 2006 and 2016, from a low base, and dry season paddy yields also increased, from 66 to 74 baskets per acre, but there was little change in input use or yields for monsoon paddy.

(11) Seeds for monsoon and dry season paddy and green gram are overwhelmingly sourced from farmers’ own reserves, or from other farmers, with little seed purchased from specialized input traders, government or other sources.

Based on these results, the following recommendations are advanced:

  • Undertake benefit-cost analysis of improved drainage to allow increased paddy cultivation in monsoon season.
  • Increase access to irrigation for dry season crops cultivation.
  • Enhance access to improved varieties for all major crops.
  • Identify pulses varieties that allows mechanized harvesting.
  • Encourage crop and livestock diversification.
  • Improve the productivity & profitability of green gram production (varieties, irrigation access, integrated pest management).

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