February 14, 2020
Myanmar cattle exports hampered by government regulations
Livestock exports were boosted after the Myanmar government lifted a ban of live cattle and buffalo exports in October 2017, but new regulations threaten to derail the country's livestock exports, reported Frontier Myanmar.
After the ban was lifted, in 2019 more than 260 companies applied for export permits. From these, 90 were approved.
According to the Ministry of Commerce's data, live cattle and buffalo exports hit US$366.359 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year compared to only US$10.627 in 2016-17. Exports were destined primarily to China, followed by Thailand.
However, traders complain that licenses for livestock export across borders are usually delayed and the regulations need to be simplified by the government. In addition, livestock specialists said Myanmar's livestock quality needs to be upgraded.
Myanmar's cattle farms are located in the regions of Magway, Mandalay and Sagaing, made up mostly of trader-owned small plots that do not breed livestock. Instead, they purchase the livestock from domestic markets and raise them until they are exported when in great demand.
There is a competitive advantage for companies and cattle farmers that have reregistered land, obtained required veterinary health documents and gotten an export license.
Dr Ye Tun Win, Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department director general under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation said the Myanmar government's new regulations have been imposed after understanding that companies who have applied to export livestock were not prepared to do so.
Myanmar's national cattle herd is at 17 million totalin fiscal 2016-17, an increase from the 15.5 million reported back in 2015-2016. However, a different report from the National Livestock Baseline Survey released in January 2019 (conducted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in collaboration with the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department) said the country's cattle herd is only at 9.5 million, raising fears over cattle decline.
There is another hurdle for prospective live cattle exporters to its biggest market, China. China has imposed more animal health, quarantine rules and regulations when Myanmar lifted its live cattle export ban.
U KhinMaung Lwin, Ministry of Commerce permanent secretary said the country could only fulfil 11 of the many Chinese rules and regulations. One regulation is for cattle farms to be opened 50 kilometres away from bovine diseases. He said this is why there needs to be a licensing process.
- Frontier Myanmar