Myanmar’s South and Southeast Asian neighbours such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Thailand have already developed and implemented national aquaculture development plans (NADP) in considering local market demands, production capacitied and budgets creating a national vision for aquaculture development. For example, Bangladesh has set up its NADP which focuses on small-scale farmers, poverty elimination and increasing export. Vietnam aims to obtain a higher export status, alluring foreign direct investments (FDI), supporting Public-Private Partnerships and reducing post-harvest loss.
Aquaculture in Myanmar is not as far developed as in its neighbouring countries. Although there has been some growth in recent years there are still many challenges. In general, the farmers’ capacities are low and inputs, like fish seed and feed, are of low quality. Other challenges are restrictions in land use, limited market access due to weak infrastructure or occupational hazards. Also, Myanmar’s Department of Fisheries has a significantly lower budget than their Southeast Asian counterparts.
To give the aquaculture sector a conducive policy framework, MYSAP and DoF started drafting National Aquaculture Development (NADP) in February 2018. Major topics are setting goals for the development of sector for the first time, creating livelihoods through aquaculture and improving the availability of aquaculture products throughout the country. Also, it aims at improving social security, promoting sustainable production as well as management practices and environmental friendliness. Also, it will show the government the needs of the sector that needs to be uplifted. The NADP will follow FAO guidelines and will bring forth a development plan with explicit quantitative and qualitative objectives. Moving beyond this, it will define concrete activities and suggest resources required to achieve them. The whole NADP process is under the guidance and mandate of the MYSAP steering committee which is led by U Hla Kyaw, Deputy Minister of The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI).
“The NADP should have national priority as aquaculture is already an important part of our economy. Aquaculture can supply income and food supply for struggling households. Furthermore, such a plan will help to prepare the aquaculture sector for climate change,” said Dr. Aung Thu, Union Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation at the MYSAP official launch in Naypyidaw on 1 February 2018. He furthermore emphasized the advantages of the NADP for Myanmar’s socio-economic aspect and its key position in aquaculture development. “If Myanmar does not increase its efforts through a NADP, Aquaculture issues will be left behind”.
The NADP will be aligned with the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2017-2022) (MSDP), National Export Strategy (2016-2019) (NES), Agriculture Development Strategy and Investment Plan (2018-2023) (ADS) as well as the Multi-sectoral National Plan of Action on Nutrition (MS-NPAN). In addition, the NADP will adhere to key principles of advocating for equitable social development, sustainable economic development, as well as ecological health and biodiversity.
In 2018, the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD), which was subcontracted by MYSAP to draft the NADP, conducted field interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders in a series of consultations in Yangon, Mandalay, Mawlamyaing and Taunggyi. The consultations were designed to collect input from all of Myanmar’s states and regions to ensure a participatory process with all relevant stakeholders from the government, private sector, academia, CSOs and the grassroot level of the small-scale fish and shrimp farmers. The implementation of the NADP is planned to start in 2019, after being approved by the Myanmar government.