Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia and has some of the lowest social development indicators in the region. One-quarter of its population lives in poverty and about 10% of the people do not have regular access to enough food to meet their dietary needs. Australia is committed to reducing poverty in Myanmar and supporting its transition to democracy. Agriculture plays a major role in Myanmar’s economy, accounting for 50% of GDP. Support for development of the agriculture sector is considered to be one of the main pathways for economic development and alleviation of rural poverty, as more than 70% of the population are subsistence-level farmers. The main focus of ACIAR’s program in Myanmar is to secure improvements in food security and rural incomes for smallholders through increased production and enhanced access to markets and services.
ACIAR’s aim is to continue to work predominantly with international organisations and NGOs, including Australian-accredited organisations. Promising results have been achieved in a multilateral ACIAR project led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) on improving the productivity of legumes in the central dry zone of Myanmar. The current program is based on the achievements of these projects and on scoping missions to identify research gaps and needs.