Myanmar population problem

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The real-world problem

Myanmar is one of the low income developing countries with the total population of 60 million[1] in 2009. The agriculture is the one of the important sectors of the national economy of Myanmar. Myanmar remains a predominantly society with the mass of its population heavily depend on agriculture and related activities. About 76%[2] of rural population is engaged in that sector. Moreover, the urban population is largely dependent on the national agricultural output for its food supply. The role of agriculture in the national economy is very important since it has a direct bearing on all other socio-economic aspects of Myanmar.

Poverty continues to be primarily a rural problem because a little less than half of total farming households have enough land and animals to earn a reasonable living from agriculture (Central Statistical Organization, 1993). Poverty reduction in Myanmar is dampened by inequality among sectors and regions. The research area, Pyapon Township is located in Ayarwaddy Divison, basin of Ayarwaddy River and famous for paddy production among all others districts in country.

The country macro economics imbalances, particularly like high inflation and persistent budget deficits, are prominent concerns in economy. These factors tend to increase the input cost of rice production for rural poor. Furthermore, the economic growth of Myanmar has been dampened by some factors such as inadequate infrastructure, production technology, environmental legislations, state price support, the lack of advanced skilled in labor force.

Rural poverty represents a significant portion if the country population. Poverty reduction has been slow due to widening inequalities among income groups and across the region. According to the Agriculture Census in 1993, about 36 percent of total farming households owned less than 3 acres of land and they can be represented as the 'hardcore poor'. The Central Statistical Organization (CSO) collected the household consumption information on both food and non-food expenditure, covering all states and divisions in 1997. Based on the relative poverty line of daily per capita expenditure of 53.69 Kyats[3], the poverty incidence for urban area was 23.9 percent, for rural area was 22.4 percent and for the whole country was 22.9 percent in 1997 (CSO,1997). The Asia Development Bank (2001a) found that Myanmar is trapped in abject poverty despite its rich resources base, and the trend of poverty is increasing overtime in the last ten years.

Pyapon is one of the basin areas in Ayarwaddy Division, known as country's rice bowl. It was also hit by Cyclone Nargis[4] in May, 2008. The incidence of flooding, unexpected pest and disease attack reduce the earnings from paddy related activities. Successful paddy output for a specified season determines the next paddy cultivation. Successful paddy cultivation leads to more nonfarm opportunities for employees. As mentioned before, it is well known that the agricultural sector remains one of the major sources of livelihood in Myanmar. Present farm family income is low because of the low farm productivity. Further the primary products are marketed without value added at the household level with very low profit margin to growers. Farm wages are barely enough to provide food, with left over for clothing, school fees, shelters, supplies, or medicines. Most of the rural areas are much worse off today than a decade ago.

The scientific challenge

There are major gaps in understanding the rural poverty, in particular the linkage between defined actions and outcomes for specific groups of the rural poor and effective mechanism for selecting and sequencing public sector choice to achieve desire outcomes. Poverty reduction will require better and real understanding of rural livelihood system. Therefore, it is important to study the poor communities in this area to see the extent of poverty and the factors which affect it. The first question that this research will seek to answer is_

What is needed to increase agricultural production and raise income?

What is the constraint for the economic development of farmers in that area?

The economic effects may cause unmarried women to leave the villages to find work, especially as the labor if women in the Delta. Inexperienced in urban life, that young women are vulnerable to exploitation, forced labor, forced prostitution and trafficking.

What are the immediate possibilities for villagers to solve this problem?

Rice can be made profitable by increasing profitability. If available technologies are correctly used, the present productivity level can be considerably increased or doubled.

What are the policy recommendations for national, state, local officials, civil societies and farmers to get the better life?


The following hypotheses are composed for this study.

  • Limited credit lines and high transactions costs in money and time significantly limit the development of agricultural business in study area and the ability of farm households to meet their subsistence food requirements.
  • Current levels of net farm income and self-produced income in kind are inadequate to supply 2100 calories per day per adult equivalent on the majority of small scale farmers.
  • Relative poverty (as measured by the Gini and Theil indices) has increased significantly since hurricane Nargis.
  • Absolute poverty (incidence, depth and intensity of poverty) has increased significanatly since hurricane Nargis.

Goal and objectives of the study

  • To figure out the profiles and characteristics of small farm households using income/consumption, health, education, and empowerment related poverty indicators in selected area in Myanmar
  • to assess the Gini, Theil, and Foster-Greer-Thorbecke coefficients condition of the small farm household in the study area
  • to assess the poverty line by means of the Cost of Basic Needs Method
  • To make recommendations to local and national governments, to NGO, and to the affected communities themselves as to how to reduce absolute poverty

The Review of literature

Thematic literature


  1. CSO Myanmar
  2. Myanmar Agriculture by U Myint Thein
  3. Exchange rate of 1997 official and unofficial
  4. The category 3 Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, making landfall in the Ayarwaddy Division and affecting more than 50 townships. With the wind speeds of up to 200 km/hr accompanied by heavy rain, the damage was most severe in the Delta region, where the effects of the extreme winds were compounded by a 3.6 meter storm surge. Nargis was the worst natural disaster in the history of Myanmar, and the most devastating cyclone to strike in Asia since 1991.