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(Yonhap Interview) Myanmar needs technology more than money to develop farming sector

All News 12:00 June 13, 2016

By Koh Byung-joon

YANGON, Myanmar, June 13 (Yonhap) -- What Myanmar needs the most is not just money but new technology that can help its agriculture sector, which accounts for a huge part of its economy, a ranking official of the country's ruling party has said.

"I think the most important thing for our country is not only capital but the infusion of technology, important technology, new technology in the agriculture sector. It's very important," Hantha Myint, a leader for the National League for Democracy (NLD) economic committee, said in a group interview with reporters last week.

The remarks were in response to a question about what kind of aid Myanmar needs in realizing its major policy goal of reducing poverty since the new government took office in March following Aung San Suu Kyi-led NLD's victory in general elections last November.

Hantha Myint is one of ranking officials who lead economic policymaking for the party. He is also known to be a close aide to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Agriculture is the largest industry in the Southeast Asian country. Roughly 70 percent of Myanmar's population are engaged in farming and it accounts for 30 percent of its gross domestic product and 23 percent of its exports. It is also among the major reform areas promised by the new government.

Myanmar is now pushing to double the proportion of agriculture in its economy in the years to come, so enhancing overall productivity in the farming sector is one of its top priorities to help tackle poverty.

"Korea and Japan, which do have a very developed agriculture economy, have, compared to the population, small land like us. But you have developed very high productivity. So I think that this sort of technology is much more important than a borrowing of capital," he added.

Emphasizing that the party prioritizes human rights in its policy, Hantha Myint also cited poverty and the development of rural and remote areas as important issues that the government and the party need to address.

"For national development, it is another important issue to develop remote areas where ethnic minorities live and tackle their poverty problem," he noted.

Touching on diplomatic relations, meanwhile, he said that Myanmar should maintain good ties with its neighboring countries including India, China and other Asian countries.

In particular, he said that Myanmar has maintained "neutral" ties with South and North Korea, but the North's pursuit of nuclear weapons is causing suspicions among other countries over relations with Pyongyang.

"We have had such exchanges as sending our soldiers to the North for training. But as suspicions are growing over our ties due to the North's nuclear weapons program, such contacts seem to be declining," he said.


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