Does Selective Mechanisation Make up for Labour Shortages in Rural Myanmar?

TitleDoes Selective Mechanisation Make up for Labour Shortages in Rural Myanmar?
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsAye_Sandar_Phyo _, Grunbuhel CM, Williams L, Soe_Soe_Htway _
Secondary TitleIOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
PublisherIOP Publishing
Key themesAgriculturalModernization, Distribution, MigrationLabour

In Myanmar's rural areas, a high proportion of the landless population is traditionally linked with landholders as farm labour. More recently, however, these linkages seem to be unravelling due to the emergence of new industries and increased urbanisation creating new opportunities outside of the agricultural sector. While agricultural development schemes encourage intensified agricultural production and mechanization, labour shortages increasingly arise at peak cropping periods. Landholders respond with farm mechanization that reduces labour requirement. Based on household surveys and focus group discussions in the Ayeyarwady Delta (AD) and Central Dry Zone (CDZ) regions of Myanmar, this paper examines the extent of labour shortages in crop production and the efficiency of farm mechanization in response to labour shortfalls. Data show that only a small percentage of landless households in either region rely on agricultural labour alone. Instead we can observe a shift towards more diverse livelihood portfolios and non-farm work. This trend further amplifies labour shortages and leads to production loss. Most farm machines, however, substitute animal power but cannot replace human labour sufficiently to make up for the shortages. Moreover, landholders suffer from the inadequate quality of farm machines and high maintenance cost. The paper highlights farm labour shortage as a result of non-farm development and argues that farm mechanisation projects are ineffective without concomitant infrastructure and services development.


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