Agricultural Land in Southern Shan State. Research Highlights 17


February 19, 2019 - Author: Khin Zin Win and A Myint Zu

Khin Zin Win and A Myint Zu. Agricultural Land in Southern Shan State. Food Security Policy Project Research Highlights, Myanmar 17, February 2019, East Lansing: Michigan State University.


The following points stand out from our analysis:

1) Rates of landlessness in southern Shan are lower than in other parts of Myanmar, at 23%. One-third of landless households access land for crop cultivation, mainly by borrowing from parents or relatives. As a result, 85% of households engage in farming.

2) Average operated landholdings in Southern Shan are smaller than in the Delta or Dry Zone at 5.2 acres (median 3.5 acres). One-third of farm households own less than 2.5 acres of agricultural land.

3) The rental market for agricultural land is not well developed. Only 5% of parcels are leased-in.

4) There is a high degree of tenure insecurity. Only one in four agricultural parcels have land ownership documentation. Among these, only half have the most secure form of land title, Form 7. Conversion of Form 105 to Form 7 has been slower than elsewhere in the country.

5) More than three-quarters of land registration documents are in the name of the male household head, despite 40% of agricultural parcels being inherited by women. This has potentially inequitable effects.

6) Rates of landlessness have not increased in comparison to those among the previous generation of landowners, but the average area of land owned has shrunk from 5.5 acres to 3.5 acres.

7) The land frontier has closed within the past two generations, causing shifting cultivation to almost disappear. About one quarter of households in previous generation ever practiced shifting cultivation, falling to 7% in the current generation and just 2% of households at the present time.

8) One third of the parcels of land disposed of by households within the past 30 years were confiscated. Nearly half of households that lost land due to confiscation were forced to stop farming entirely, while one-quarter experienced a substantial reduction in agricultural income.


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