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Accelerating the Myanmar Mung bean Value Chain

Countries:
Start project:
  • 2019
Donors:
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

ICCO Cooperation (ICCO) in collaboration with Myanmar Government’s Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), Evers Specials B.V. (Evers)and the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg), have launched a 48-month project, funded by the DANIDA Market Development Partnerships (DMDP) facility under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. The project aims to increase the income from mung bean production and marketing in Myanmar.

Along with political reforms in Myanmar, the country’s economy has opened up during recent years. Economic growth has been strong with rates between 6.4 and 8.4% between 2012 and 2017, and is expected to remain high. Myanmar uses 21.2% of its total cultivated area for the production of pulses, among them mung beans. The country is one of the world’s largest exporters of these commodities. In 2015 Myanmar exported 1.54 million MT of pulses (and beans), of which 80% was shipped to India. The rest was exported to China, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Bangladesh, Japan and the EU. 36% (or 280.5 million USD) of these exports were mung beans.

Despite various market opportunities, smallholder pulses farmers in Myanmar remain poor, for the following main reasons:
-The annual income retained from mung bean farming is low, ranging from 71 to 357 USD per acre per year. Based on earlier research by the consortium partners, this is possible to increase by 30%.
-Yields are relatively low (ranging between 0,51 and 0,73 MT/acre in the project areas). Based on earlier research, these yields are 50% lower than ideal yields for mung bean farms.
-There is a limited number of service providers on organizing farmers, which results in lesser bargaining power and missing the opportunities that collective action (collective marketing, collective purchasing, collective selling, etc) can bring.
- MFIs have very limited coverage and are not able to provide financing to small farmers in rural areas. Myanmar population is thinly-served by financial services with only 6% of adults using more than one product. Farmers are relegated to using informal, unregulated sources of credit, often at excessively high rates of 20 percent per month; 9.2 million adults have loans from this type of unregulated financing. Current product offerings do not meet
consumer needs, and mismatches lead to an unmet need or a higher cost.
-There is a limited number of service providers on how to practice GAP & GHP, and why and how to use good quality seeds (and which seeds are suitable for the profitable sprouting export business). Pesticides are often used without proper consideration of their spectrum of efficacy, and without proper safety measures. This has led to negative impacts on the health of farmers, workers, and their families. In addition, it creates marketing problems, especially for export to higher quality markets.
-More than 2% of imported mung beans from Myanmar to Europe are rejected due to microbial/chemical contamination.
-Gender inequality exists in the value chain: women benefit far less from the economic opportunities that the mung bean sector has to offer. Especially women labourers get stuck in the cycle of poverty.
-India was an important export destination for pulses, particularly black gram, but it is reducing its imports because of increasing domestic production. This has led to falling prices, and making it even more relevant for Myanmar producers to aim for market diversification, including higher quality markets like the EU, where there is a high demand for good quality mungeans for sprouting. These premium markets prefer varieties with higher quality beans, with good sprouting traits, which is usually also rewarded with a higher price (up to 20%).
The proposed project is closely aligned with the government’s policies: the ‘Agricultural Development Strategy’ (ADS) is recently developed by MoALI, with assistance from ADB, FAO, and LIFT; the government’ ‘National Export Strategy’ (NES, incl. the specific strategy for the Beans, Pulses and Oilseeds Sector); and the draft ‘Pulses Sector Strategy’, stating that the pulses sector is “an inclusive, regionally and globally competitive, sustainable and adaptable sector contributing to the socio-economic well-being of all members of the pulses supply chain contributing to development of Myanmar’s national economy”. These policy documents seek commercialisation of Myanmar’s agricultural sector, to let it contribute more to the overall economy. Choosing pulses as the focus crop, the project also aligns with the ‘Environmental Conservation and Climate Change Resilience Policy’ and with Myanmar’s ‘Climate Smart Agricultural Strategy’.

There is a number of relevant projects that already focus on the mung bean sector in Myanmar, and which the applying consortium aims to complement and synergize. ‘Pulses, People, Planet and Profit (P4, 2017-2020)’, led by ICCO, in close collaboration with buyers and exporters, aims to create a more favourable regulatory environment, and more inclusive markets. There is another potential new pulses project set to be run by ICCO, funded by the Netherlands government. This proposal is still under review and not confirmed yet. The focus of this project is domestic processing and consumption of mung beans and chickpeas. If approved, it will be complementary to the ACTIOM project. The ’Improved Mung bean Harvesting and Seed Production Systems for Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan’ project funded by ACIAR and led by WorldVeg is aimed at mung bean breeding, and jumpstarting the mechanic harvesting of mung beans. WorldVeg has also been working with DAR as part of the International Mungbean Improvement Network (IMIN). Through the network, WorldVeg has shared its genetic database with 296 varieties and recently developed improved lines with resistance to diseases such as Mungbean Yellow Mosaic Disease (MYMD), powdery mildew, and storage (bruchid) pest. Further a current study to analyse the adoption of mung bean varieties in Myanmar and neighbouring countries will help to inform and guide the design of screening activities of improved lines and relevant partnerships required towards maximizing awareness and eventual adoption. The VegImpact and VegCap projects financed by Netherlands government include Evers as private partner. It focuses among other sectors also on mung bean in Myanmar.



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