FROM 1 October 2019 to mid-June 2020, Myanmar exported over 560,000 metric tons of fishery products, an increase of 70,000 tonnes over the same period in the previous year. Myanmar earned around US$ 683 million from aquaculture exports, increased by more than US$ 100 million from the year-ago period. The country fetched around US$ 580 million from fishery exports during the same period last year, according to the figures from the Ministry of Commerce.
Despite an increase in terms of income, Myanmar’s fishery sector still cannot keep abreast of the neighbouring countries. Myanmar’s fishery sector is suffering a sharp drop in demand from foreign markets due to Covid-19 pandemic. The declining demand also affected the country’s fishery industry. The fishery sector employs about 3.5 million people in Myanmar, roughly 6% of the Southeast Asian nation’s workforce. There are around 248,000 acres of fish farms and 240,000 prawn farms throughout the country. Myanmar has been negotiating with China to export more fishery products through G to G pact. Myanmar’s fishery export heavily relies on Chinese market.
Myanmar’s fishery products are mainly transported to Europe and Asian countries while freshwater products are shipped to Arab countries. The EU and North America account for about 45 per cent of Myanmar’s aquaculture ex ports – which were estimated to be worth US$ 750 million in 2020 - while China and Thailand account for the remaining 55 per cent. Myanmar’s marine products mainly go to more than 40 countries including the European Union, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and United States. Fish and shrimp production industry is the second prioritized business after agriculture sector in Myanmar. Myanmar’s fishery sector has been the fourth largest contributor to the country’s GDP, and the four largest source of foreign income in the past five years.
The Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation set a record for foreign income from fishery exports over a period of ten years. The department is also making concerted efforts to earn US$ 1 billion in conjunction with respective organizations and entrepreneurs in the current financial year. The department is closely working with the fish breeders, processors and exporters to ensure Myanmar marine products meet the rules and regulations of importing countries. At the same time, authorities are trying utmost to conserve fishery resources as well as ensure sustainable development in the country’s fishery sector. Fish, prawns and crabs are required to meet set standards for better quality and size in foreign markets.
The Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) is trying to establish fish and prawn farming zones in cooperation with region and state governments while inviting foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the country’s fishery industry. The MFF plans to establish fish lakes, aqua feedstuff processing factories, cold storages, and packaging factories, in cooperation with foreign companies and investors. The MFF is also seeking ways and means to explore new export markets and adopt an advanced farming system so as to boost the country’s fish and prawn farming sector. Myanmar mainly exports prawns, crabs, squid, shrimp, dried shrimp, and dried fish to its neighbours such as Thailand and China through its border trade camps.
Myanmar shipped 340,000 tonnes of marine products worth US$ 530 million in 2013- 2014 FY; transported 330,000 tonnes valued at US$ 480 million in 2014-2015FY, and freighted 360,000 tonnes worth US$ 500 million in 2015-2016FY. The Southeast Asian country exported 430,000 tonnes of fishery products worth US$ 600 million in 2916-2017FY, shipped 560,000 tonnes valued at US$ 700 million in 2017-2018FY, and exported 580,000 tons worth US$ 700 million in 2018-2019 FY, according to the statistics from the ministry.
By Kyaw Htike Soe