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MYANMAR : Japan pumps $10m into agro research

By Pyae Thet Phyo | Thursday, 13 August 2015

Agro-Laboratories that will help Myanmar become the “food bank of Japan” will be completed next month. 

Nine labs being built by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on the campus of Nay Pyi Taw’s Yezin Agricultural University will be completed by the end of September, said university rector U Myo Kywel on August 10.

Japanese experts will teach at the labs, which cost US$10.6 million, starting November until 2019 in subjects including agricultural crops, plant husbandry, fertile topsoil and water science, plant diseases, entomology, gardening crops, agro-business, agro-engineering, and animal husbandry.

“Two Japanese professors will be resident here, and agricultural experts will come for six-month stays. Then teachers from here will be sent to Japan to study, from the normal science degree to professor level,” said the rector, adding that Myanmar teachers returning from Japan would pass on their learning to others and take part in research.

U Myo Kwel was speaking before representatives of Southeast Asian universities at the Farmlands and Agricultural Conference, held at Nay Pyi Taw’s Kempinski hotel.

Deputy Minister for Agricultural and Irrigation U Ohn Than told participants that the aim was for Myanmar to become the food bank for Japan, funnelling Myanmar food products into the Japanese market.

As participants sampled sake, sushi and sashimi, U Myo Kywel said Japanese experts could produce food in Myanmar for export to Japan once the labs were complete.

“Today’s event is a kind of promotion of Japanese food and its high technical quality,” he said.

Japan could also introduce the necessary training and technology to allow Myanmar to produce foods such as biscuits and chocolate.

JICA plans to build a vegetable dehydration factory in Myanmar, and will teach local farmers how to grow mangoes without insecticide, U Myo Kywel said.

“They will import vegetables like cabbage and asparagus after dehydrating them here and sell them in Japan for five times the price. They will also build dehydration factories in Nay Pyi Taw. The Japanese like mangoes, but not insecticide, so we need to perfect the techniques of growing perfect mangoes without spraying,”  he said.

The university has strong links with Japan. 

As the United States and other Western countries applied economic sanctions, most teachers at Yezin Agricultural University took their masters courses in Japan, as well as in South Korea, Germany, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

One-third of the faculty is engaged in overseas study.

Translation by Thiri Min Htun

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