Sein Ta Lone mangos piled up at a Mandalay night market. Photo: Kaung Htet / The Myanmar TimesFrom The Myanmar Times

Efforts to improve standards in Myanmar’s mango sector are bearing fruit, with almost 30 growing gardens being awarded Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certificates. Agriculture officials are hoping that other crops can earn the GAP stamp, which they say results in high export prices.

U Tin Htut, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation said that the first GAP certificates for mango growers were awarded in May 2016, and that now 27 separate mango gardens have the accreditation.

“We’re continuing efforts to award the GAP certificate to other fruits and vegetables,” he told The Myanmar Times.

Mangos are trailblazing a path for GAP certification in Myanmar partly because the famous Sein Ta Lone (diamond) mangos are one of the country’s most successful export products. The incentive was therefore to prioritise already well-established export crops, as the GAP stamp means the produce is regarded as better quality, safer and correspondingly the price is higher, said U Aung Moe, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture.

The government issues a GAP certificate when it determines that the a set of standards – including on food safety, quality, environmental impact, workers conditions and benefits – have been met in the production.

Under Myanmar’s GAP system, experts from the Department of Agriculture conduct laboratory tests on soil samples from the farming area, checking for a excess amounts of chemicals and metals.

The agriculture department’s director general, U Ye Tint Tun, said that the government is planning to implement organic farming systems that are free of chemical fertiliser or pesticides. But this is not straightforward, and so the GAP system was introduced as an intermediate measure, he said. The GAP regime allows chemical fertilisers and pesticides, but only in accordance with prescribed criteria.

U Ye Tint Tun said the department is also planning to educate and train farmers in pesticide use in the Nay Pyi Taw area who are growing over 8000 vegetables and over 80,000 acres of black gram as cold seasons crops, according to staff officer U Maung Soe from the capital’s regional Department of Agriculture office.

“Education and discussions with farmers growing varieties of pulses will be conducted throughout the season to ensure the right [pesticide] spraying methods, frequency and spraying times,” he said. “At present the farmers are spraying pesticides in excessive amounts and more often than required for fear that the yield might be affected.”

Black gram, green gram, cabbage and water green also are being sprayed with too much pesticide by farmers worried about pests and trying to ensure their crops looking appealing at market, he said.

Translation by Zaw Nyunt

Keywords: mango, agriculture, GAP, food safety, exports, Myanmar, The Myanmar Times