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Myanmar's Corn Production and Exports Remain Depressed Amidst Ongoing Conflict and Economic Challenges

Myanmar's corn production and exports are expected to remain subdued in the 2024/25 marketing year, hampered by ongoing conflict, economic instability, and logistical challenges, according to a report by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

The report highlights the significant impact of civil unrest in major corn-producing areas, including Shan State, Kayin State, and Kayah State. Fighting between the military regime and various armed groups has disrupted agricultural activities, displaced farmers, and hindered transportation of corn to market.

"[We forecast] Burma’s corn continued low production in MY 2024/25 due to civil unrest in the major corn-producing areas (northern Shan state, Kayin and Kayah states), low domestic prices, and replacement with other crops," the FAS report states.

In addition to conflict, low domestic and international corn prices, coupled with high production costs and currency depreciation, have discouraged farmers from planting corn. Many farmers have opted to replace corn acreage with other crops such as chili peppers, pulses, sugarcane, and ginger.

"As production costs for corn cultivation increased, while profit margins dropped, farmers began to replace some corn acreage with other crops," the report notes.

Myanmar's corn exports are also expected to remain flat in MY 2024/25. Exporters face numerous challenges, including shrinking production, transportation difficulties due to damaged infrastructure and conflict zones, and policy changes related to export earnings.

"Burma's corn exports are expected to remain flat in MY 2024/25 as producers and exporters continue to face the same challenges as in MY 2023/24 (i.e., shrinking production, transportation challenges, and policy changes on export earnings)," the FAS report explains.

The report further details the logistical complexities and policy hurdles that impede Myanmar's corn exports. Transportation costs are high, particularly from conflict-affected areas, and the destruction of bridges has further complicated logistics. Additionally, recent changes in export earnings regulations have created uncertainty and challenges for traders.