Negative impacts of Covid-19 in Myanmar continue
The survey findings presented by the Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Coordination Group (ARDSCG) and the World Bank in September clearly indicate households, enterprises and different sectors across Myanmar, Yangon Region in particular continue facing the negative impacts of Covid-19.
After a short period of school and business reopening in June-July, the Myanmar Government has again tightened the restriction order due to a rapid increase of cases. On 20 August, 2020 stay-at-home/work-from-home measure came into effect for the people and business operations in Myanmar’s commercial region Yangon except for the banks and financial services, fuel refilling stations, food businesses and cold warehouses, pharmaceutical and medical equipment businesses, drinking water businesses, and factories producing daily hygiene products. In-country movement restriction and the stay-at-home measure are effective until 21 October 2020. Suspension of the international and domestic commercial flights is also in effect until end October. It is therefore important to note that data collection for the surveys was done before the recent strict stay-at-home order so the information has not included its possible adverse effects.
Highlights and common findings across the surveys
Crop prices and sales are declining: 63% of communities report less income from crop farming, horticulture producers are affected the most. Transportation has become either less available (71%) or cost increased (58%). The increase transportation costs are passed on to the farmers in lower prices. Border-trade disruption due to mobility restrictions (~0% to India and China) is expected to further reduce market prices.
Lower yields of monsoon crops expected: 40% of communities are affected by the weather shocks, low rainfall in July-August. Even though the input costs get high, sales of agricultural products have decreased from the period May to July. Less income from crop farming becomes a pressing issue, 63% in July-August as compared to 38% in June-July.
Community food and nutrition security improving: Common findings across the surveys suggest an improvement with community food and nutrition security. For instance, the number of communities who receive government non-food assistance have increased dramatically (7% to 68%) from July to August, the condition of extreme poverty in communities shows a decrease 17% to 11%. In Rakhine State however, communities reportedly mention an increase in dry good prices, less access to vegetables, limited market hours.
Supply side shortage: 46% of rice millers encounter lower milling volumes (30% reduction), and difficulty with buying paddy. As a result, millers are offering lower than average prices for paddy and selling milled rice at higher than average prices. Although commodity trading has become stable with fewer disruptions in August than in previous months, 33% still face difficulty marketing and 24% with buying. Traders report lower margins yet prices have been stable.
Overall impacts remain unchanged: World Bank Myanmar’s nationally representative survey of firms and households’ livelihoods make an indication that the overall business confidence improves yet less optimistic about the recovery, the negative impacts largely remain unchanged. The worst hit firms are from Yangon Region (92%) followed by Mandalay Region (87%) and Chin and Dry Zone (77%). Between March-May, the percentage of households’ main earners who stopped working have reached 54%. The situation seems to improve in the agricultural sector as the percentage of main workers without work drops from 67% in May to 23% in June. See the ARDSCG and the World Bank survey findings for more details.
According to Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI), the Government has so far disbursed 75% of K92 billion allocated funds for the sector. Between April-September, K404.7 billion worth financial support distributed to low income households. Plan is currently underway for MoALI to draw up a national Food Security Master Plan.