Seed sector alert Myanmar

Myanmar seed sector assessment

Seed Alerts identify current challenges and urgent action in Myanmar’s seed sector, based on surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders.

Below, please find the most recent seed alert for Myanmar with key actions defined. You can also download the complete assessment.

Methodology

Rapid assessments are conducted at the country level in May and June 2020 through survey and focus group discussions (FGDs). In its approach the rapid assessments are inspired by the sector model developed by AidEnvironment. Read more about the methodology on our page 'Rapid assessments: methodology'.

Seed sector assessment - May 2020

Alert 1: Measures reduce the mobility of farmers and seed entrepreneurs, and thereby reduce farmers’ access to quality seed

The impact

  • The COVID-19 crisis and the measures taken to combat it negatively affect the mobility of labour for seed production field operations, such as land preparation, rogueing, and disease and pest management, as well as post-harvest practices, seed processing, packaging, and storage
  • The COVID-19 measures reduce the mobility of farmers and seed entrepreneurs (seed growers, private seed companies, seed traders, and seed and fertilisers shops)
  • Because the measures and their enforcement vary between different regions, states, and townships, their impact on the functioning of the seed sector also varies
  • If these measures continue to affect the agricultural input sector during the May– July period farmers will suffer a shortage of quality seed, which will have a serious negative impact on agricultural productivity and production

Actions required

  • Allow the mobility needed to carry out seed production in the field and factories or warehouses, agri-logistic services, and agri-labour movement to designated places of work
  • Ensure that seed entrepreneurs and labourers strictly follow the social distancing measures, washing their hands and wearing facemasks
  • Help solve the security issues that hinder the use of drone services for pesticide and fertiliser application
  • Ensure that the same status and priority is given to the movement of seed and fertilizers, labour and employees, and vehicles as to the movement of health products, health manpower, and transport
  • Because of its value for national food and nutrition security, and the contribution to the national economy, encourage the relevant authorities to classify the agricultural input sector as an ‘essential sector’
  • Engage with authorities so that permission is granted for the transport of seed and fertilisers within and between the townships, states, or regions
  • Create awareness among farmers and seed entrepreneurs of social distancing measures, hand washing, and facemask wearing
  • Develop and share guidelines adapted to the seed industry, issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS)
  • Encourage seed entrepreneurs to prioritize selling their seed in their township and in neighbouring townships; this can help farmers avoid traveling long distances
  • Encourage seed shops to transport seed closer to villages where farmers need quality seed; this can help farmers avoid traveling long distances
  • Encourage seed entrepreneurs to promote their seed through media and digital platforms
  • Encourage seed entrepreneurs and farmers to communicate directly by phone on the availability of seed for different crops varieties
  • Speed up the mobile-based ‘Quality Seed App’, in order to facilitate the demand for seed and sales in the dry zone and delta

Alert 2: Measures affect regulatory functions in seed import, variety release, and registration

The impact

  • The mobility restrictions have a negative impact on import permit applications and approvals, hampering the importation of seed vital to the maize and vegetable sectors
  • The mobility measures also mean that the Technical Seed Committee that is responsible for variety release and registration has not been meeting
  • Difficulties in seed import, variety release, and registration create major risks to the business model of seed companies, producers, and other seed entrepreneurs
  • Subsequently, the quantity and quality of seed available in seed markets will be reduced, with implications for seed prices, portfolio of available varieties, portfolio of crops for which quality seed is available, and quality of seed available on the market

Actions required

  • Facilitate seed import through the Green Channel during the COVID-19 crisis
  • Promote the use of digital application forms for issuing import permits, and link this to the Myanmar Seed Portal, managed by DOA, MOALI
  • Create awareness of the ‘Myanmar Seed Portal’ for seed import and variety registration
  • Use virtual platforms such as Zoom to organise the Technical Seed Committee (TSC) meeting on variety release and registration and regular meetings of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to support the TSC’s decision-making process
  • Make arrangements so that applicants who have applied for seed business, seed import, and variety registration can present information or answer questions from TWG and TSC through virtual means
  • Inform seed companies and seed importers that seed samples for variety adaptability tests can be sent to the Seed Division; they do not need to come to the office physically

Alert 3: Measures affect the affordability of quality seed for farmers

The impact

  • The crisis has a negative effect on the income of farmers from both on-farm and off-farm sources
  • Farmers have been hit hard by being unable to sell the produce from their harvested summer crops
  • A large number of migrant workers from Myanmar, mainly working in Thailand, have lost their job during the COVID-19 crisis; they have returned
  • Unemployment in the rural sector has increased due to the limited cash available to farmers and entrepreneurs
  • If the COVID-19 crisis continues to the upcoming monsoon season, it will lead to increases in debt and force farmers and the rural population to sell household assets to cope with the crisis
  • Dishonest seed dealers are taking advantage of the crisis, stockpiling seed (such as of the Ayeyarmin rice variety) and creating seed shortages in the market; consequently, the price of quality seed has increased

Actions required

  • Develop and promote mechanisms whereby private agro-input dealers and seed companies provide credit for seed to their farmers, like they do for fertilizers and pesticides
  • Support those who are producing seed for paddy, pulses, beans and oil seed crops, to access agricultural loans of 400,000–500,000 MMK from the Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank (MADB), as an incentive to promote seed production and seed business development
  • Propose extending the agricultural loan payment period and reducing bank interest rates for seed growers and seed companies during the COVID-19 crisis period
  • Encourage government to provide seed subsidies for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis as a palliative measure
  • Ensure that the seed subsidies model do not affect to the private seed sector business
  • Develop and propose a subsidy model in which the government for the duration of the crisis provides financial support to the private seed sector (seed companies and seed shops), who provide subsidised seed as advance credit to farmers under contract farming arrangement
  • Develop and propose an alternative subsidy model in which the government during the crisis buys seed from the private sector at the current market price and distributes the seed at a subsidised price to farmers
  • Ensure that seed subsidies only are applicable for seed purchased from registered seed companies, seed producers, seed shops, and seed traders
  • Take measures to reduce instability, especially regarding stockpiling and the creation of seed shortages in the market

Alert 4: Measures hamper the production and supply of early generation seed (EGS)

The impact

  • Mobility restrictions hamper the supply of EGS by the DOA and Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) to seed entrepreneurs (e.g., seed companies, seed growers, and NGO-supported seed projects)
  • If the COVID-19 crises is prolonged, it will affect EGS production at DOA Seed Farms and DAR Research Farms
  • No information on the volumes of EGS available for different crops and varieties at the farms and facilities of DOA and DAR is available to seed entrepreneurs
  • Likewise, information on the demand among seed entrepreneurs for EGS of different crops and varieties in the coming seed production season is not available to MSA

Actions required

  • Collect data on the volume of foundation and registered seed in stock for different crops and varieties at the various DOA and DAR farms
  • Share the EGS stock data widely, so that seed entrepreneurs can access it and plan seed production for the coming monsoon season
  • Use a variety of communication channels to share EGS availability
  • Collect data on the volumes of foundation and registered seed planned for production in the coming monsoon season at DOA and DAR seed farms
  • Collect data on demand for registered seed among seed entrepreneurs and supply it to the DOA and DAR
  • Speed up the use of the ‘Quality Seed App’ for digital ordering of EGS seed in the dry zone and Delta
  • When registered seed cannot be supplied due to the exceptional circumstances and for the duration of the crisis, permit the use of Certified Seed Class 1 (CS1) to produce Certified Seed (CS2) for open-pollinated crop varieties
  • Encourage and promote this exception particularly in remote areas where registered seed distribution is limited
  • Encourage ‘Registered Seed’ production by selected seed entrepreneurs in different regions
  • Support DAR and DOA in organizing public–private partnership agreements with seed entrepreneurs in the dry zone to produce foundation and registered seed

Read the full assessment (PDF)