The Role of Landholding as a Determinant of Food and Nutrition Insecurity in Rural Myanmar

TitleThe Role of Landholding as a Determinant of Food and Nutrition Insecurity in Rural Myanmar
Annotated RecordAnnotated
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRammohan A, Pritchard B
Secondary TitleWorld Development
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Key themesAgriculturalModernization, Conversion-FoodSecurity, Formalisation-titling, MarginalisedPeople

Recent research has emphasized the role of land tenure in influencing rural food and nutrition insecurity in developing countries. We use data from rural Myanmar to empirically analyze the links between land holdings and household level food and nutrition security. Our analysis focuses on the following issues: (i) what are the socio-economic characteristics of food insecure households?, (ii) what are the main coping strategies adopted by vulnerable households to address their food security?, and (iii) are our findings robust across the different food security measures? Our results show landholding to be a strong predictor of household food and nutrition security.


Copyrighted journal article



Document Type

Journal Article


Overall relevance: 

This article uses data from the LIFT survey to examine the relationship between landholding and food security among Myanmar’s rural population. The question is deemed important as Myanmar opens its economy amidst a context of high levels of rural poverty and under-nutrition despite an exported food surplus. The study finds an unsurprising correlation between landlessness and land shortage, on the one hand, and food insecurity, on the other. However, it also nuances this relationship by showing a number of contingent conditions where policy has meant that access to land is and insufficient predictor or guarantor of food security

Key Themes: 
  • Land zoning, planning, conversion and food security - Myanmar shows high levels of rural poverty and food insecurity for a country that has maintained food exports over a sustained period. Food insecurity is closely linked to security of access to land. It is important to understand food security beyond rice. Ability to meed hunger needs, diversity and range of food groups also determine food security status
  • Land policy and land law - Myanmar’s history of state interference in rural food production has restricted the development and diversification of the agricultural economy. State procurement and price controls, along with the tying of requirement to produce rice with rights to hang onto land, have distorted and suppressed agricultural production. Opening of the economy is associated with new insecurities of land tenure. The implications of this for food security are of concern as Myanmar modernises and opens its economy under continued uncertainties, although the Farmland Act and Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Act of 2012 provide greater openings for farmers to make appropriate crop choices and investments on their land
Research basis: 

The study draws on the 2011-2012 Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) survey of 4000 rural households across 252 villages