A National Development Model that Promotes Smallholder Farmers


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This presentation by Swe Set from the Land Core Group Myanmar given at the Forests Asia Summit during the discussion forum "Equitable development: What is the fairest of them all? Assessing aspects of equity in incentive mechanisms for natural resource conservation and management" focuses on:
1) Smallholder farmers as backbone of Myanmar
2) History of Land Grabs
3) Land Tenure Insecurity on the Rise
4) Impact of Recent Reforms
5) Farmland Law & Wasteland Law
6) Growth of Industrial Agribusiness
7) Why Smallholders are Better
8) What Myanmar Needs

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A National Development Model that Promotes Smallholder Farmers

  1. 1. Land Core Group (LCG) Food Security Working Group (FSWG) Myanmar) The Forest Asia Summit, Jakarta, Indonesia 5-6 May, 2014 A National Development Model that Promotes Smallholder Farmers
  2. 2. Outline of Talk 1. Smallholder farmers as backbone of Myanmar 2. History of Land Grabs 3. Land Tenure Insecurity on the Rise 4. Impact of Recent Reforms 5. Farmland Law & Wasteland Law 6. Growth of Industrial Agribusiness 7. Why Smallholders are Better 8. What Myanmar Needs
  3. 3. Smallholder farmers– Backbone of Myanmar  About ¾ of the population (about 40 million people) live in rural areas and rely on farmland and forests for their daily needs and livelihoods.  Agriculture (plus livestock and fisheries) contributes about 1/3 of country‟s GDP and 15 percent of total export earnings, and employs over 60 percent of the nation‟s labour force  So farmers and land is very important to Myanmar – economic, political, social, and cultural reasons
  4. 4. History of Land Grabs  For decades land has been confiscated for various reasons by different actors, but farmers were not able to raise their voices…until now  In past decade an increase in land grabs  For infrastructure development (roads, dams)  Special Economic Zones (SEZs)  Extractive industries (Oil, Gas, Mining)  State-sponsored agricultural projects  Military land use  and since 1991‟s Wasteland Instructions…Industrial agriculture
  5. 5. Land Tenure Insecurity Rising  In addition to land grabs, other factors driving land loss:  Human (Conflict, Wars) & Natural Disasters  Poor land governance, especially in upland areas where communities practice shifting taungya under customary law  Weak support system to farmers (debt, lack of capital, technology, market information)  Speculation or “hot money” trying to make a quick profit on unregistered sales of land  This increases the risk of losing land…and therefore increasing land tenure insecurity
  6. 6. National Rural Discontent 1. Media reports land conflicts on a daily basis 2. Average area of household farm plots have been decreasing in some areas…under 5 acres (below subsistence) 3. Food insecurity is a major issue, with higher rates in rural areas of Myanmar 4. Landlessness and land-poor households on the rise, especially for woman-headed ones 5. Especially a problem in conflict areas near the border
  7. 7. Impact of Recent Reforms  New laws and policies have been or will be passed that will increase pressures on farmers‟ lands and livelihoods Farmland Law Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Law Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Law Foreign Investment Law  Foreign agricultural investment (agribusiness) IS the big new threat to farmers‟ land in Myanmar
  8. 8. Laws 1. Legalizes land use titles (right to transfer, mortgage, inherit, gain from legally-permitted use) 2. Land titling programme 1. Upland shifting cultivation (shwe pyaung taungya) not recognized by new law; thus, can not be titled 2. Many farmers struggle to understand how to register land they have cultivated for years for U Paing 3. Buy and sell land use titles on market 1. Along with FIL, companies will be able to
  9. 9. Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Law 1. Lands without official land use title can be given to private sector 2. Farmers that have cultivated on & paid taxes for “wasteland” for years have never been granted U Paing by SLRD 3. Uplands where communities practice shifting cultivation under customary law are most at risk as these are outside the SLRD‟s land survey
  10. 10. Government-Supported Agribusiness  MoAI‟s goal stated by 30-year Plan (2000- 2030) to convert 10 million acres of „wasteland‟ for private industrial agriculture  Targeted industrial crops: Palm oil in Tanintharyi Region Jatropha (national target of 8 million acres) Rubber for the Chinese export market (mostly in northern Myanmar)  Cassava (Yuzana in Hugaung Valley, Kachin State)
  11. 11. Growth of Industrial Agribusiness  204 Myanmar companies, 2 million acres (MoAI, 2011)  2/3rd from Tanintharyi Region & Kachin: Kachin State: 15 Myanmar companies, 600,000 acres (mostly rubber and sugarcane); Tanintharyi Region: 36 companies. 670,000 acres (palm oil)
  12. 12. Area granted for large-scale commercial farming (31 Jan 2011) State/Region No. of companies Area granted (acres) Kachin 15 596,180 Kayin 1 2,161 Sagaing 18 100,057 Tanintharyi 36 671,594 Bago (East) 9 5,859 Bago (West) 7 13,913 Magwe 38 202,492 Mandalay 16 10,300 Yangon 7 30,978 Shan (South) 12 65,985 Shan (North) 17 51,111 Ayeyarwady 28 193,353 Total 204 1,943,983
  13. 13. Biggest recent increases in Kachin and northern Shan State from Chinese rubber As part of China‟s “Opium Drug Substitution” Only 20-30% actually cultivated Creating landlessness, food insecurity, land-erosion
  14. 14. Yunnan companies’ opium crop substitution projects in northern Myanmar Acres Tonnes (quota) Rubber 47916 18877 Corn 5913 11090 Castor-oil 5270 5000 Rice 4032 9792 All other 28597 44756 TOTAL 91732 89515
  15. 15. Land Concessions (March 2012)State/Region No. Company Govt Organisation Granted Area (Ha) Naypyitaw 1 2998 Chin 4 624 Kachin 26 1 565174 Kayin 1 1 1623 Sagaing 13 41 104924 Tanintharyi 42 402212 Bago (East) 26 11 21140 Magwe 33 19 85507 Mandalay 3 2534 Yangon 3 2 12537 Yakhine 8 3167 Shan (South) 64 21 65003 Shan (North) Ayeyarwady 47 23 115677 Total 267 123 1,383,120
  16. 16. Industrial Agriculture Model Allocate „wasteland‟ to businessman Farmers, who have been using land for a long time, lose land Loss of only livelihoods they know Become wage laborers, extremely vulnerable Often, these farmers are not even hired to work as laborers on their former land
  17. 17. Why Smallholders can be better  Can be more economically efficient than industrial farms if provided with affordable credit, technology, inputs  Can contribute to national economic development & food security  Promotes social stability, helping Myanmar to uphold recent ceasefires  Multi-cropping is much better for the soil
  18. 18. What Myanmar Needs: Laws and policies that support smallholder farmers, land-poor households, and landless Affordable capital loans, technology, extension Improved market access, including for export Freedom of crop choice to allow farmers to take advantage of market opportunities Fair legal recourse for land disputes
  19. 19. What Myanmar Needs: Recognise customary land rights in the uplands, particularly shwe pyaung taungya as legal land practice Consultation with communities on land- use planning that considers actual land- use on the ground Fairly negotiated contract farming terms between company and small holders Freedom to organize farmer associations, unions, and collectives (increase bargaining power and rights)
  20. 20. What has been done so far  National Symposium on Land Tenure with the lead of Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry during 2012 and National Economic and Social Advisory Council was held and it recommended to formulate national comprehensive land use policy  Community Forest Scheme initiated by the ministry for several years in the country but it needs to be acknowledged in the forest law so that community who uses the forest will be protected  Foreign Investment Law and National Investment Law are under review and an improved law will be
  21. 21. National Comprehensive Development Plan  Regional (spatial plan) and Sectoral Plan  Spatial plan includes land use plan and it has to be bottom up and people centered  So far, no such a comprehensive plan formulated but attempting towards this is positive  That planning practices will need people participation and promote identification of the needs of poor and small scale farmers that will then have to be reflected in the plan so as in the budget accordingly
  22. 22. THANK YOU