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The Myanmar [Burmese] government and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have signed a new memorandum of understanding this week to help implement the ‘Myanmar Rice Sector Development Strategy and Program’ which aims to boost rice production and improve other aspects of the rice sector in Myanmar.
Myanmar was the top rice exporter in the 1960s and is trying to become a prominent rice exporter once again to strengthen its economy. According to Myanmar officials, Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta is larger than Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and has the potential to boost Myanmar’s rice production and exports significantly.
In a conference held by Myanmar’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MoAI) and IRRI this week, the MoAI minister said Myanmar requires rice varieties that can tolerate salinity, floods, drought and low temperatures. There is also a need to increase the use of quality seeds, expand the use of modern agricultural techniques, reduce post-harvest losses, establish access to local and international markets, and increase the capabilities of its rice scientists, the minister added.
Collaboration between IRRI and Myanmar dates back to 1976. Since then, joint efforts have resulted in the development of 77 high-yielding rice varieties, including many that are currently grown by farmers for the domestic market and some that are grown for export, according to IRRI.