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.
Agricultural extension services in Myanmar are traditional. Several factors pose as constraints in the meaningful development of its farmers. For example, extension program planning remains prerogative of the government with little involvement of men and women farmers. In other words, farmers’ extension needs are not taken into consideration. There are no well established farmers’ associations to constitute a strong lobby. All along, the emphasis has been on improved technology to enhance agricultural production while the importance of developing skills, knowledge and proper attitudes of the farmers has not received much attention. Rural infrastructure, and farm infrastructure in particular, is under-developed and the electrification is scant. Low salaries and benefits, lack of mobility and inadequate operational budgets lower the morale of the otherwise sufficient number of extension staff.
There is only one agricultural university whose role in supporting extension has not yet been defined. In addition, its agricultural extension curriculum is outdated. While it is good to see coordination among the Agricultural Extension Division, Seed Division and the Department of Agricultural Research in several important activities, there is no evidence of Agricultural Extension Division promoting cooperation among public and non-public institutions. In fact, contacting common farmers for imparting technical extension advice on food crops is not a high priority for the private sector. Due to government rules, NGOs also face a number of hurdles in carrying out human development work, especially in rural areas. Another factor that lengthens red tape in extension matters is too many layers of bureaucracy in the public extension service.
Agricultural Extension Division, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (http://www.moai.gov.mm)The Department of Agriculture (DOA), headed by a Director General, is the sole government institution responsible for providing public extension services to the farmers. The DOA performs functions including extension towards the following objectives:
- increased production of major crops;
- development of improved production technology through proper research on management of soil crop and pest control;
- development of suitable high-yielding crop varieties;
- transfer of appropriate crop production technology through agricultural extension program;
- distribution of certified seeds through the seed program;
- provision of agricultural inputs;
- classification of soils and advising on soil conservation techniques;
- exploration of export markets on some agricultural produce.
The DOA is one of 14 institutions of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. It has nine divisions, the Agricultural Extension Division (AED) being the biggest. Recently, the AED has been undertaking the following extension activities:
- Training and capacity building of extension agents;
- Training of farmers in transfer of technology through Farmers Field Schools (FFS); Farmers to farmers discussion, training and education;
- Farmer-based participatory demonstration trials and field visits by local authorities and extension agents;
- Delivery of educational materials, pamphlets, newsletters and books on new crops;
- Education of farmers in the utilization of quality seed, drum seeder, combine harvester, dryers, etc.
- Explanation of post-production losses in rice production to the farmers;
- Cooperation among government, non-government and other relevant institutions for the dissemination of advanced technology at village level.
The staff hierarchy of the AED is multi-layered. Starting from the top, it includes: Director General of DOA, General Manager (Agriculture), Deputy General (Manager), Manager (Deputy State/Divisional), Manager (District), Assistant Manager (Township Manager), Deputy Township Manager, Village Tract Manager, and Village Manager. The following tables outline the number of public extension workers in Myanmar:
The AED uses the following approaches and programs for updating agricultural techniques of farmers’ communities:
- Large scale education camps
- Farmers Field Schools
- Ten-member farmers’ groups (Se-Le-Su) for extension contacts
- Training & Visit system
- Special high-yielding programs
- Special crop production zones
- Block-wise crop production programs
- Farmers’ participatory technology development approach
Table 1: Number of public extension staff in agriculture, forestry, fishery and rural development in Myanmar as in 2009
Total Extension Staff
Female Extension Staff only
Agriculture (including crops and livestock)
Fishery (Marine and aquaculture)
Source: Investment Assessment Project survey; FAO Rome; 2010
The extension coverage by various managers differs from locality to locality depending on several factors including communication facilities. On average, a Village Manager, who is supposed to maintain direct contacts with farmers, is required to cover a few village tracts or villages with 1,215 to 2,430 hectares of cropland. As many as 10 Village Managers are supervised by each Village Tract Manager. The Village Tract Extension Service is involved in promoting rural development.
Table 2: Academic Qualifications and Gender of Human Resources in Agricultural Extension in Myanmar as in 2010
Second. School Diploma
2-3 Year Agriculture Diploma
Senior Management Staff
Subject-matter Specialists (SMS)
Field Level Extension Staff
ICT Support Staff
In-service Training Staff
Source: Myanmar Agriculture Service
As of 2002, there were 35 Seed Farms, 17 Research Stations, 53 Horticultural Farms, 10 Field Crops Farms and five (5) Crop Substituting Farms in the opium cultivation areas—all under DOA. Among these, Horticultural Farms, Field Crops Farms, and Crop Substituting Farms are engaged in extension activities related to crop and horticultural production, crop protection, systematic fertilizer application and soil and water management. All these activities are undertaken under the supervision of the Agricultural Extension Division, which is also responsible for seed multiplication and distribution in coordination with the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) and the Seed Divisions for major crops, that is, rice, maize, pulses, oilseed, vegetables and fruits.
In addition, DAR has seven (7) crop divisions to individually cover rice, other cereals, fiber crops, oil crops, food legumes, sugar crops, and horticulture.
All the extension activities of the state and division level agricultural research stations are organized by the DAR.
- produce and distribute quality seed systematically;
- conduct systematic quality control activities to maintain seed with genetic identity, varietals purity and high germination
- conduct training, workshop and field days
- establish Model Registered Seed Growing Villages for multiplication of certified seed
- demonstrate the effective use of small farm implements and machinery.
The goal of the university is to educate students to enable them to attain high standard in agricultural sciences, and generate well qualified agriculturists for the country. The university has nine (9) departments of basic and applied agricultural sciences, and offers both B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in agricultural sciences. Recently, the university has started Ph.D. program. The faculty is well qualified and experienced faculty. Some of the teaching staff has received post-graduate training overseas.
Some of these donors are:
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – mainly in humanitarian assistance
- Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) – mainly in technical assistance, soft loans and grants
- European Union – mainly in poverty alleviation through MDGs
- Department for International Development (DFID)
- Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) – mainly in health, food security, sustainable livelihoods, basic education and water and sanitation
- Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – mainly assistance in programs of regional interest
Not long ago, the government has created Myanmar Rice Industry Association (MRIA) to promote the export of rice. The MRIA has been created by merging three existing associations namely, the Myanmar Rice and Traders’ Association, the Myanmar Millers’ Association and the Myanmar Paddy Producers’ Association.
- Action Aid Myanmar (AAM) www.actionaid.org
- Water Research and Training Center – Myanmar (WRTC-Myanmar) www.wrtcmyanmar.org
- World Vision Myanmar (WVM) www.wvasiapacific.org
- Saetanar www.saetanar.org
- Capacity Building Initiative (CBI)
- Population Services International (PSI)
- Myanmar Fish Farmers Association (MFFA)
- Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers’ Association (MRPPA) http://www.mrppa.org
- Yezin Agricultural University
- Myanmar Department of Agriculture
- Myanmar Academy of Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock and Fishery Sciences
A paper by Khin Mar Cho and Hermann Boland (2004), based on a research study conducted in Myanmar in April 2001, shows the in-country and overseas training received by extension agents located in seven different regions, as follows:
Table 3: Extent of training in technical disciplines received by extension agents in Myanmar during the period 1995-2000
Technical discipline in which training was provided
Percentage of content received through training
Soil and water management
Source: Research study paper by Khin Mar Cho and Hermann Boland (2004)
Table 4: Overseas training received by extension agents of Myanmar during the period 1995-2000
Countries in Which Training Received
Duration of Training (days)
Number of Trainees
Areas of Training
Wheat production technology
Sustainable agriculture & rural development
Rice production technology
Rice production technology
Flower wheat cultivation & processing
Agriculture development in mountain regions
Hybrid rice production technology
Integrated agriculture & rural development through participation of local farmers
Source: Research study paper by Khin Mar Cho and Hermann Boland (2004)
The study also revealed further specific training needs in ten technical subjects as expressed by the extension agents in the following order of priority:
- Extension education
- Rice production technology
- Market information advice
- Pure seed production
- Post-harvest technology
- Pulses and oil seeds crop production technology
- Cropping system
- Industrial crop production
- Plant protection technology
- Farm mechanization
According to the World Bank, in 2010, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Myanmar was 1.23. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 0.22. The number of mobile users dramatically changed this year, but an increasing number of people now have mobile phones.
There has been talk of establishing an e-agriculture information center in Myanmar to efficiently publish and share essential information for agriculture business. The center will serve as the main source of agricultural product distribution information. Also, a website will be launched for information sharing.
According to the extension management, publications are available on-line, around 60 to 65 television programs are telecast per month, and about 16 radio programs are broadcast per month. In addition a number of information bulletins and fact sheets are being distributed to some farmers, but we are uncertain about the number of farmers actually receiving these educational factsheets/information bulletins. Other than that, there is no evidence of any significant modern ITC application in support of extension programs being used.
Cho, K.M. (2002). Agricultural extension in Myanmar. BeraterInnen News; Pp. 45-48
Cho, K. M. and H. Boland (2004). Agricultural training in Myanmar: Extension agents’ perceptions of training needs. Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education, Vol. 11, Number 1, Pp. 5-15
Khin Mar CHO and Hermann BOLAND (2002): Participatory Learning for Agricultural Extension and Future Development in Myanmar, Institute of Rural Sociology and Extension, University of Giessen, Germany
available at http://www.tropentag.de/2002/abstracts/full/302.pdf.
Cho, K. M. and H. Boland (2005). Extension strategies for sustainable agricultural development in Myanmar. Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of AIAEE at San Antonio, TX, USA
FAO (2010). Survey on Extension; Investment Assessment Project
Saha, S.R. (2011). Working Through Ambiguity: International NGOs in Myanmar. The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard University
Thein, U.B. (2010). Country Report (Myanmar); Investment Assessment Project. FAO, Rome
UNDP and FAO (August 2003 to January 2004). Myanmar: Agricultural Sector Review and Investment Strategy (two volumes). Available at website www.mm.undp.org/UNDP
Key Statistics and Indicators
Agricultural land (sq km)
Agricultural land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares)
Arable land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares per person)
Fertilizer consumption (per hectare of arable land)
Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)
Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)
Food exports (% of merchandise exports)
Food imports (% of merchandise imports)
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)
Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)
Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)
Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)
Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)
Internet users (per 100 people)
Population density (people per sq. km of land area)
Rural population (% of total population)
Agricultural population (% of total population)*
Total economically active population**
Total economically active population in agriculture*
Total economically active population in agriculture (in %
of total economically active population)
Female economically active population in agriculture (% of total economically active population in agriculture)*
- Myanmar Agricultural Service, Agricultural Extension Division
(4,534 extension staff in 2009) http://mas.moai.gov.mm
"Among the twelve Divisions of the organization, the Agricultural Extension Division makes up for the largest proportion of the total strength of staff, having more than 8,000* extension agents right down to the village level in the whole country.
Its major function is to transfer agricultural technologies appropriate to different resource status to farmers. And it also organizes and motivates farmers to adopt proven technologies for better livelihood in rural farming community and increased national agricultural production.
Extension methods in practice are:
- launching special programmes in selected areas in selected crops
- establishing efficient contacts between farmers and extension agents through agricultural education camps and seasonal demonstrations
- training and visit systems on farmers' fields
- conducting demonstration of technology packages in large blocks on farmers' fields
- launching regional development programmes in border areas and
- conducting integrated rural development programmes, in addition to traditional extension methods.
Having both research and extension wings under the same organization, there is a close and effective linkage between them, the Agricultural Extension Division receiving new technologies, transferring them to farmers and feeding back of the field responses to the Research Division.
The General Manager of the Agricultural Extension Divisions, in carrying out these duties, is assisted by:
(a) State or Divisional Managers at the State and Divisional level;
(b) District Managers at the district level;
(c) Township Managers at the township level;
(d) Village Tract and Village Managers at the village level.
A Village Extension Manager has to take charge of a few village tracts or village with 3,000 to 6,000 acres of crop land depending upon the locality and state of communication, while a Village Tract Manager supervises the work of 10 Village Managers who are in direct contact with farmers.
It also undertakes seed multiplication and distribution works in coordination with the Seed Division."
Myanmar Industrial Crops Development Enterprise
- Coffee Planning Section