Rice and fish are key elements of the diet and major agricultural production sectors in Myanmar. Rice-fish systems (RFSs) encompass a spectrum of farming and fishing practices, from traditional capture of fish in rice-dominated landscapes through to controlled farming of fish in rice fields. Rice farming covers approximately 8 million ha and involves more than 5 million rural households. Myanmar governments of the recent past favored “command and control” based policies that discouraged rice farmers from diversification and making production decisions based on market demand. Such policies have constrained crop- and land-use diversity, as well as opportunities for poverty reduction. Recent policy shifts are now presenting a window of opportunity for developing and implementing diversified and productive rice-fish systems. Such developments would contribute to overarching policy goals of the government for poverty reduction, addressing under-nutrition and rural development. The overall aim of the project is to improve the productivity and profitability of rice-fish systems in Myanmar. The project will benefit small-scale rice farming households, and fishers, by diversifying production in rice-based farming systems and landscapes, enhancing resilience of rice-based farming systems and delivering increased farmer incomes, improved food and nutrition security and enhanced gender equity.
In Myanmar, the fast-growing aquaculture sector has huge potential to improve the lives of rural households, which make up 70 percent of the population and depend largely on low-yielding agriculture for their livelihoods (FAO 2015).
In Myanmar, fish is an important part of the diet.
Small-scale capture fisheries—where fishers operating from the shore or small fishing vessels use simple methods to catch fish from inland or coastal waters—are an often irreplaceable source of nutrition and income in the developing world. Ensuring the sustainability of these fisheries will require coordinated, multi-scale and research-backed governance of ocean and inland aquatic systems that balance the needs and interests of all users.
In Myanmar, aquaculture is capable of generating higher farm incomes than almost any other form of agriculture, making it an attractive option for rural farm households.
Currently, more than 200,000 people are engaged in aquaculture, with the indigenous carp, rohu, representing 70% of production. Yet production of the fast-growing and hardy tilapia species is low, despite its ability to adapt to diverse environments, which makes it ideal for small and medium-scale fish farmers in developing countries.
More than half of the land base in many regions, including Southeast Asia, is constrained by poor soil quality, and 12 million additional hectares of land are degraded annually, where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown instead. The project promotes the use sustainable land management (SLM) practices that help close yield gaps and enhance the resilience of land resources and communities that depend on them while avoiding further degradation. Key project activities include surveying farmers to understand barriers to adoption of SLM, analyzing economic contributions of SLM practices, and engaging with stakeholders to combat land degradation.
Photos from Myanmar.