Consultation With Governmental Committees
On Friday 29 November 2019, ICCO Cooperation and Network Activities Group (NAG) were invited for a consultation with the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Committee and the Farmer Affairs Committees. These committees are tasked with the responsibility to monitor, check and offer policy solutions to the Myanmar government on matters related to agricultural development.
At the core of the recommendations was the first committees ‘Inquiry into Agricultural Chemical Residues’, one of the first of Myanmar’s current government parliamentary inquiries. This process, guided and supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), was unique in Myanmar. The inquiry started in October 2018, and is currently finalizing its report.
All of the steps and levels of approval within the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Committee are being navigated for the very first time, which makes it a slow process. ICCO and NAG were engaged, initially sharing summary recommendations in February 2019. Under the Civic Engagement Alliance, the partner organizations were able to finalize publication of four reports:
- Improvement of the Enabling Environment in Mung Bean Value Chain for Development of Smallholders in Myanmar”.
- Assessment on disaster risk reduction and environmental protection of mung bean production in Myanmar”.
- Recommendations from Pulses Learning Workshops” (in collaboration with Myanmar Agricultural Network), and
- Proceeding of the Workshop of High Level Consultations on Improving Quality of Agriculture Production for Trade Promotion and Food Safety” (together with Food Security Working Group).
Photo: second left Bram Peters (ICCO Programme Officer Inclusion & Innovation), and on the right Khin Myint ICCO Country Programme Officer)
The conclusions and recommendations from these reports are shared with the two committees. Core messages to the committee related to the need to pay more attention to the pulses sector, to enforce and raise the penalties of illegal sale and misuse of pesticide, to further invest in quality by improving seed access, testing laboratories, and restructuring of the Department of Agriculture to meet farmer demands for support. Furthermore, the government should encourage interministerial and multi-stakeholder collaboration, for instance by making it easier for farmers associations to be officially recognized and registered at township and regional level.
Chairman U Aung Kyi Nyunt of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Committee has appreciated the consultation. He stated that the committee was taking the following steps:
- Focus on the ongoing Pesticide and Fertilizer Law Amendment, and then specifically on the issue of defining the penalties for selling and wrong usages of illegal pesticides.
- In Myanmar, the main priority crop is rice. The committee will be asking the government what is the seed plan with regard to other important crops like pulses, beans and corn. Farmers need to be able to access alternative crop seeds in order to adapt to changing market conditions and emerging threats and disasters.
- Regarding the General Scheme of Preferences (GSP), the committee will be asking the government for the reasons and justification of the terms of the specific GSPs for India and Japan and make them more beneficial for pulses trade.
- The committee will propose statement to the government on the function of economic counselor from Ministry of Commerce need to provide the world trade focus on important commodities.
The active work of the chairman of the committee gave the impression the work of ICCO and NAG was appreciated, and managed to highlight the need for paying more attention to the pulses sector, and the many smallholder farmers producing these products.