Agricultural Land in Myanmar’s Dry Zone


December 1, 2017 - Author: Aung Hein, Isabel Lambrecht, Kyaw Lwin &

Aung Hein, Isabel Lambrecht, Kyaw Lwin & Ben Belton, 2017, Agricultural Land in Myanmar’s Dry Zone. Food Security Policy Myanmar Project Research Highlight 8. East Lansing: Michigan State University

The following points stand out from the above analysis:
1. As anticipated, levels of landlessness in Myanmar’s Central Dry Zone are high, at 40%. Moreover, even among landed households, a large cohort of farms operates extremely small farms, and the bottom 1/3 of farm households operate just 3% of all agricultural land, while the middle 1/3 possess only 15%. It is important to keep this distribution in mind when designing agricultural interventions or planning for rural development. Such plans should pay close attention to the specific needs of both non-farm households and those with very small agricultural landholdings.

2. Rainfed upland accounts for the majority of agricultural land in the surveyed communities. Irrigated lowlands suitable for paddy cultivation account for around one third of farmland in these townships, and other types of agricultural land are scarce. Rainfed non-paddy crops (oilseeds and pulses) with highly variable yields account for the majority of Dry Zone agricultural production. Finding ways to improve productivity and reduce risks associated with the production of these crops is thus a key priority
for agricultural research.

3. Unlike in many other areas of the country, possession of formal land use certificates (Form 7) is the norm. Confiscation was the second most common reason cited for loss of land, accounting for 13% of disposed parcels, but possession of a formal land use certificate appeared to reduce the likelihood of land confiscation.

4. Indebtedness was the most common reason for the loss of agricultural land, being cited in 39% of cases. Further research is needed to understand how the relationship between debt and land ownership is changing over time.

5. Landlessness has increased intergenerationally, while average farm size declined. However, it is not clear on the basis of the survey what processes are driving this trend, whether it is resulting in greater concentration of land ownership over time, and whether the trend is accelerating or attenuating. These questions require further research.

6. Land access arrangements other than ownership are rare, with land shared-, leased- and mortgaged-in together accounting for just 3.4% of all agricultural parcels operated. Land rental markets in the Dry Zone are thus far less developed than is the norm in most other countries in the region. It is unclear whether this pattern reflects the influence of historical factors, or arises from the risky nature of rainfed agricultural production.


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