Myanmar and IRRI
Since 1965, IRRI has been involved with Myanmar researchers, extension personnel, and farmers in introducing rice breeding material, hybrid rice technology, and locally adaptable designs for rice transplanters and threshers. In May 2015, Myanmar Rice Sector Development Strategy was launched at the Department of Agricultural Research, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
Former IRRI director general Dr. Robert Chandler was invited to visit Myanmar in 1968. This started the exchange of scientists between Myanmar and IRRI that continued over the years. In 1975, Dr. Kaung Zan, general manager of the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI), became a member of the IRRI Board of Trustees (BOT) and served the board from 1975 to 1977.
Technical relations were formalized in 1977 when the Myanmar Agriculture Service (MAS)and IRRI signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that opened the way for the two phases of the IRRI-Burma Cooperative Project (1981-1985), and Myanmar (formerly Burma)-IRRI Farming Systems Project. These projects were for varietal improvement, rice farming systems, the development of small-scale farm implements, and training through degree and non-degree programs. This was funded by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) (1979-1989) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) (1989-present).
In 1993, the operating plan for a new Myanmar-IRRI Upland Farming Systems Project was signed by Dr. Mya Maung, managing director of MAS, and Dr. Klaus Lampe, then IRRI director general. It was jointly funded by MAS, IDRC, and IRRI. The two-year project was for research on low-cost, sustainable, rice-based farming systems in the hilly regions of the country.
In 1994 to 1995, the German Freedom from Hunger Campaign provided additional support for improving farming systems’ productivity and sustainability in the uplands. The Government of Myanmar recognized IRRI as an international organization through its Ambassador to the Philippines in 1997.
MAS and IRRI signed the Myanmar-IRRI Work Plan Agreement for collaborative research activities from 1997 to 2000. These activities included genetic resource use, agricultural mechanization, integrated pest and disease management, community-based natural resource management, geographic information systems, and training. In 2003, MAS and IRRI again signed an agreement for collaboration in agricultural research and training covering 2003-2006.
In 2008, IRRI came to Myanmar's aid to post-Cyclone Nargis. The Institute's scientists helped Myanmar authorities draw plans to increase rice production amid devastation from the cyclone.
The ADB-funded IRRI postharvest project conducted a training program on postharvest technologies in 2012. This program ensured the sustainability and success of the dryer technology that is being rapidly adopted in both Cambodia and Myanmar.
On 5 December 2013, Myanmar President U Thein Sein, Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation U Myint Hlaing, and other members of the president's cabinet came to IRRI to discuss stronger Myanmar-IRRI partnership in rice research.
In March and November 2014, village-level learning alliance meetings where key stakeholders learned to use new technologies and reduce postharvest losses, were held.
The Government of Myanmar tapped IRRI for technical assistance for the development and implementation of the Myanmar Rice Sector Development Strategy (MRSDS), launched in 20 May 2015. The MRSDS will serve as a guide for stakeholders to revitalize the country's rice sector and for Myanmar to regain its preeminent role in the global rice market.