Experts analyzed the food preferences of more than 700 consumers in Myanmar and made recommendations to help farmers and agribusiness meet demands.

In December 2020, the Feed the Future Burma Agriculture and Food Systems Development Activity, which is funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, held a webinar to share the findings of market research focused on Myanmar’s agricultural products. Researchers interviewed dozens of supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores as well as more than 700 consumers. What they found were opportunities for Myanmar’s agricultural sector to meet buyers’ standards, expand, and enter into new markets.

One recommendation was to build on existing agricultural products that have higher value added. For example, researchers suggested exploring wellness uses for traditional products like ginger and turmeric. Another recommendation was to reach higher quality standards for these products by using improved seeds and quality assurance systems. Researchers also suggested that advertising would speed up consumers’ shift toward higher-quality foods.

“USAID is ready to support these upgrades. USAID sees agriculture as an ideal entry point on many of the issues that are important to both Myanmar and the U.S.”

–Paul Pleva, USAID Economic Growth Office Director, in a press release

The majority of Myanmar’s workforce is involved in agriculture one way or another. According to Pleva, agricultural growth is one of the fastest routes to economic prosperity and, in turn, food security and poverty reduction.

He added that USAID believes strong economic links between communities promotes greater social cohesion. In a country where ethnic tensions have led to dramatic and deadly conflicts, economic ties across communities can only help divert future conflicts in favor of each group protecting their own interests. Pleva also stressed that a strong, diversified agricultural sector would mean higher incomes and wealth for farmers and business owners.

During the webinar to discuss the research, Myo Thu, Deputy Director General of MyanTrade, said Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce is currently monitoring the market price of nine major consumer goods and working on ways to improve domestic and export markets. MyanTrade formed in 2016 under the Ministry of Commerce to prioritize exports. He was also joined by Dr. Ye Tint Tun, Director General of the Department of Agriculture under Myanmar’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation.

The research conducted by Feed the Future Burma Agriculture and Food Systems Development Activity is one of several studies it has led on the country’s vegetable, fruit, oilseed, bean, pulses, maize, spices, coffee, and tea sectors. Along with government partners, the Activity is teaming up with private sector businesses in Myanmar to boost investment in agriculture and help entrepreneurs succeed. The studies provide invaluable data that informs government, private sector, and donor investment in Myanmar’s future.

Learn more about the Feed the Future Burma Agriculture and Food Systems Development Activity.