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Myanmar (Burma) is the second largest country in Southeast Asia. Its capital is Nay Pyi Taw and the largest city Yangon. The country enjoys about 400 miles of uninterrupted coastline. The population is about 60.2 million. 

Myanmar is divided into seven states and seven regions/divisions, which are further divided into 67 districts. The districts are sub-divided into townships, sub-townships, towns, wards, village tracts and villages. In spite of being rich in natural resources, Myanmar is one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world. The infrastructure is inadequate and energy shortages common. 

Myanmar lies in the monsoon region of Asia and as such its coastal areas receive heavy rainfall. The climate in summer is hot, rainy and humid while the winters have less humidity, scant rainfall and mild temperatures. 

Agriculture is the most important sector accounting for about 60 percent of the GDP and employing about 65 percent of the country’s workforce. Rice is the main crop covering some 60 percent of the total cultivated area. Other crops include pulses, beans, sesame, groundnut and sugarcane. Livestock, fishery and lumber are also important. Slash-and-burn method of shifting cultivation is still common to certain arable land. Myanmar has been a major producer of opium, but government ban on its cultivation since 2002 has left farmers without any viable source of sustained income. 


Agricultural extension service in Myanmar was started by the Department of Agriculture in 1927, that is, about 21 years before the country’s independence. The extension service was responsible for providing educational activities, collection of statistical data, enforcement of standard weights and measures, procurement and distribution of improved seed, farm equipment, fertilizers and insecticides. The distribution of seed and the delivery of inputs were considered as extension’s main activities. In 1976, the Training & Visit (T & V) system of extension was introduced under a World Bank financed project. However, the operations and resource persons could not be sustained after the end of the project. From 1979 to 1986, the Selected Concentrative Strategy (SCS), more or less similar to the T & V system, developed by the national staff was followed in a special production program focusing on high-yielding crops in irrigated areas. This strategy along with the T & V system continues till today. 

Knowledge, Information and Technology (KIT): Agricultural research, education (training) and extension programs in Myanmar are covered through obtaining and utilizing knowledge, information and technology (KIT). Specific activities include research, collection of existing KIT from other countries, training of research scientists and extension workers, provision of extension advice to farmers, enabling farmers and community-based organizations to participate in the activities of farmer development community or agricultural cooperatives. The training and extension programs are organized with two objectives: first, to ensure that officials, farmers and others interested in agri-business have access to and are well equipped to benefit from the best available KIT related to agriculture, agri-business and farm management; second, to enable the rural community to take common action in matters of agriculture, agri-business and farm management. Education of farmers is done through mass media (newspapers, radio, television and journals), distribution of pamphlets, and training and visits by the extension agents to individuals or groups of farmers. 
Andrea Bohn,
29/12/2010 10:05