Despite the flood of investment that accompanies the liberalization of the economy of Myanmar, less than 1 percent was directed to the agricultural sector.
US agribusiness giant DuPont believes this is due to the lack of a strong intellectual property legislation, the lack of infrastructure, lack of a viable system of crop insurance, and lack of application of science and technology for the sector.
The company, which opened an office in Burma last year, the use of new technologies to change the seeds. The resulting products were introduced to a number of countries in the region, but are new to Myanmar.
Sittideth Sriprateth, CEO of DuPont Myanmar, said his team is starting to go in the camps and talk to farmers. “We are explaining our new products,” he said at a recent press conference at the Innovation Centre of Thailand.
Meanwhile, the lack of laws to protect patents creates the risk that has been copied DuPont said. “We are working closely with the government and explain how our products help farmers in Myanmar to compete with other countries. No new technology, farmers can not increase performance.”
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DuPont is in Myanmar for the long term, said Mr. Sriprateth, and is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation in the registration process for hybrid maize and rice, which is having a bit of time.
“But we want to go through the protocols in accordance with the law, and the process also helps to educate the government,” he said.
“You can start with the construction of a factory that produces nothing. You have to start market development,” said Mr. Sriprateth.
Although Myanmar is trying to attract investment, it is also very important to ensure a solid base, he added. “If people have not reached a certain stage of development you will not be able to buy or consume some of these products.”
Competitiveness in the agricultural sector will become increasingly important as time goes Myanmar the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Discussions on how the AEC will focus on agriculture and food security are paramount, said Ho Hsing, CEO of DuPont ASEAN group.
While agriculture employs more than 50 percent of the population of the countries of ASEAN, there is little information on how the AEC affect farmers, he said.
Demand for food is growing with increasing population of ASEAN from 630 million to a projected 700 million in 2030. An emerging middle class will mean increased demand for healthier and more nutritious foods, Mr Ho said participants 16 October conference.
The AEC should consider adopting a more harmonized regulatory framework and a coordinated plan for the testing of agricultural products, he said.
“If you are in harmony, allowing farmers to take more science and technology throughout the region. We are confident that the ERM framework will emphasize this point.”