Revitalized Agriculture for Balanced Growth and Resilient Livelihoods: Toward a Rural Development Strategy for Mon State, Myanmar

September 1, 2016 - Author: Multiple Authors from: Center for Economic and Social Development, International Food Policy Research Institute, and Michigan State University

IDWP 146. Multiple Authors from: Center for Economic and Social Development, International Food Policy Research Institute, and Michigan State University. 2016. Revitalized Agriculture for Balanced Growth and Resilient Livelihoods: Toward a Rural Development Strategy for Mon State, Myanmar

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
The purpose of this report is to provide national- and state-level policymakers, private-sector
investors, civil society, and donors with an analysis of the rural economy of Mon State and
pathways to improved prosperity for its population. The analysis is based on a representative
survey of rural households, which make up 73% of Mon State’s 2 million residents, and
extensive interviews with farmers, traders, processors, local leaders, and government
officials. Whereas some parts of the Mon State economy are quite dynamic, such as
construction, others are stagnant and far from reaching their full potential. Furthermore, the
dynamic sectors are heavily dependent on remittances from migrants to neighboring
countries. The current pattern of donor investment is heavily focused on necessary
infrastructure and energy investments, but with only very limited support to productive
sectors, especially agriculture and fisheries. Major investments in education, both formal and
vocational training, are also necessary to support the growth of a modern economy. The
analysis in this report identifies options for more balanced growth, leading to a vibrant
economy in which returning migrants can invest and find employment.
According to the Mon State Rural Household Survey carried out in 2015, the main sources of
rural household income are agricultural production (24%) followed by remittances (22%),
nonfarm business (18%), wage labor (14%), and fishing (11%). The most dominant factor
driving Mon State’s economy in the last decade has been outmigration of labor to Thailand
and other countries. Agriculture, however, has not performed to its full potential. The two
main crop sectors in the state, rice and rubber, have both been hindered by low yields, low
prices, and inefficient processing, leading to declining returns. Other promising and
potentially profitable activities, such as cultivation of fruits and vegetables or aquaculture, are
currently implemented on a relatively small scale. With 31% of individuals aged 15 to 45
migrating (84% of them to Thailand), rising wages are further eroding farm competitiveness
and profitability. Low agricultural profitability is thus both a cause and a consequence of high
levels of migration.
The poor performance of agriculture can be overcome through appropriate policies and
investments that modernize and reinvigorate the state’s agriculture, while providing
infrastructure and institutions that provide foundations for sustained growth in nonfarm
enterprises. We offer specific policy and investment options to achieve balanced and
sustainable growth in two broad areas: (1) stimulating growth in agricultural and sustainable
management of natural resources, and (2) providing public infrastructure and services that
strengthen the enabling environment.
The actions presented below are not intended to be a rigid set of requirements but rather a set
of initial recommendations toward a rural development strategy for Mon State based on
analysis of current evidence. As new information comes to light and the economic conditions
change, rural development strategy needs to adapt with new or modified policy and
investment options.

Tags: gisaia, idwp, myanmar


Related Topic Areas

Myanmar, FSP Youth dataset


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