I work with a wonderful and brilliant team on a USAID funded project in Myanmar. Errm… I mean Burma… (The U.S. government still resists the name change). The team recently wrote a paper on the aquaculture sector in Myanmar. It is a fascinating read, if you’re into this kind of thing… Although I’m not an official co-author of the report, I did copy edit the entire document prior to it’s official release.
Read the whole report here: Aquaculture in Transition: Value Chain Transformation, Fish and Food Security in Myanmar
Here are some take-aways:
1. Fish is super important to Myanmar’s food and nutrition security.
- Fish is the cheapest form of animal protein in the country.
- Fish accounts for 50% of animal source food consumed.
- Fish represents an average food budget share in Myanmar equal to that of rice.
2. Marketed aquaculture products (i.e. farmed fish) are largely inaccessible to the poorest in Myanmar.
- Aquaculture supplies only 21% of total fish intake.
- The remaining 79% is supplied by capture fisheries (i.e. fishing with nets in rivers, lakes, and the ocean).
3. Productivity of Myanmar’s aquaculture sector is relatively low
- Reported yields in Lower Myanmar have a mean of 3.7 t/ha, with a minimum of 1 t/ha and a maximum of 10 t/ha
- Compare that with Andhra Pradesh, India (a comparable region) which has a mean of 9 t/ha.
- Myanmar’s production level roughly equals that of India’s Andhra Pradesh in the 1980s.
4. Official statistics of Myanmar’s aquaculture sector are flawed.
- Production figures are inflated by roughly 160%.
- Pond use for aquaculture is underreported by roughly 30%.
5. Myanmar’s aquaculture sector is dominated by large firms.
- An antiquated land use regulation, constraining smallholder farmers from transitioning their farm from rice paddies to fish ponds, still remains from the centralized military regime of the 1980s.
- While credit systems exist in rural areas, it is generally accepted that smallholder farmers have limited access to formal credit markets.
- There is room for growth in Myanmar’s aquaculture sector through expanding the production of smallholder fish farms.