In Myanmar, about 70 per cent of the population lives in rural areas and is pre-occupied with agriculture at the level of farmers where the bulk of the production comes from.
Today, they are facing poverty and find it difficult to afford even the basic necessities for their families. Younger generation of farmers walked out of their farms in search of better jobs in cities.
To improve the socio-economic condition of our farmers, we need to formulate a long term plan for the sustainable development of our country.
Today, our business leaders are urging us to think about which economy is suitable for our country and where they should invest to develop the country.
When we think about it, we should not forget the fact that food security would be a major challenge in the late 21st century. What can we do in the years to come to ensure food security? To improve the socio-economic condition of our farmers and to boost our economy, we need to set up agro-based industries such as flour, rice and sugar mills, cotton ginning, and a dairy milk industry in rural areas.
We should prepare for development of agro-based industries while seeking ways for boosting our economy through these agro industries.
The setting up of such agro-industries would create job opportunities for our people as well as for farmers. This in turn, would ease the trend of rural folk migrating to urban cities in search of livelihoods.
Investments in the agro-based industries or small and medium scale industries in the agriculture sector are welcomed today because SMEs are seen as keys to integrated growth, alleviation of poverty and reduction of unemployment in the country.
Technological support is needed for Myanmar’s SMEs to produce high-quality commodities, as well as encouragement for pioneers, innovation, creativity and exploring new markets.
According to the 2015 Myanmar Economics Survey, the manufacturing sector made up the bulk of the economic sector at 40 per cent, while 90 per cent of the businesses in Myanmar were small businesses. But, only two per cent of businesses in the country employ more than 250 employees.
To create business opportunities in the agriculture sector, the restrictions for investment in the agriculture sector have been eased since 2016, allowing foreign investors to invest up to 80 per cent.
Hence, our business leaders are invited to invest in the agro-based industry in preparation for future food security and for the sustainable development of Myanmar.