Yangon-A Place to Learn Meditation

Living in Myanmar is a different experience. The whole country is quieter, calmer than the rest of bustling Asia, beautifully, naturally green, with an unparalleled aura of peace. This is seen even in its biggest cities like Yangon and Mandalay, which have all the features of buzzing commercial centers, and yet have a soothing effect. It’s the tranquil air that touches deep, and most who experience it, opt to stay on. A far cry from lives many of us have left behind, to set up homes in Yangon, we now shun the noise, frenzy, stress and rush that is a part of daily lives in places not far from here. Many of us have turned to Buddhist meditative practices, and now understand how little we need to survive, and while we have not yet renounced material belongings, the craving for more, has dissipated.

The peaceful ambience has to be witnessed and experienced in person, to comprehend what it means to have a calm existence, without any rush or frenzy, without noise and pollution, without panic and chaos of multitasking which at best, yields half-baked solutions to multiple issues. The people also appear so calm and gentle by nature, there are no loud haranguing voices, no shouts and fights, only soft sounds of conversations even in cafes and tea shops. This can be attributed to their Buddhist beliefs, with 90% of the population following Buddhism. Meditation is a way of life, an essential that they turn to, frequently, and most people try to take a few days off annually, for mediation retreats in monasteries in some part of the country.

Myanmar’s association with Buddhism and meditation is centuries old, actively supported by royalty down the ages, and meditative practices were passed on from masters to disciples, generation after generation, and never getting lost. The Vipassana technique of mediation, though originated in India, continued only in Myanmar in its pristine form, while getting lost for centuries where it started. Today, mediation in various forms is spreading all over the world, and many of those carrying this torch have taken their first steps on this path, in Myanmar.

Yangon then, is the ideal, perfect place to learn meditation, with its numerous meditation centers offering comfortable though basic living facilities, and these too, free of cost. Any donation made to compensate for expenses is highly appreciated but remains optional. It is only if one goes for a mediation course that combines yoga, nature walks and meditation and is organized by travel agencies, that one has to pay, depending on the duration and quality of living quarters.

What is Meditation all about

There is always an urge to improve as human beings, meaning that we would like to get rid of our bad habits, vices, negative thinking patterns, and develop a pure mind, far removed from venomous thoughts, ill-feeling towards others, and never wanting to hurt or harm anyone by our words and actions. This is possible only if we develop a razor-sharp mind that stops us before we make a wrong move or utter hurtful words, develop empathy and move towards a high level of purity that touches the core of our being. Meditation is the only way to self-purification.

Asian cultures have inculcated a need for spiritual elevation as one gets on in age. However, in recent years, the spiritual journey for many, begins once they cross twenty and seek a meaning and purpose in life, beyond the material and the mundane. All the meditation centers have a significant number of disciples in their twenties, and some even conduct special courses for teenagers.

Our lives that focus on the physical and material cause only pain, misery, jealousy, craving and aversion. Spirituality and its pursuit lifts us above these. Meditation is the route to freedom from all misery-causing factors, like the ego, which is often the root cause of all negative sensations and aversions in our body. Forgetting the “I” and overcoming self-importance is the only way we can reach the stage of non-self. In the present age, self has become most important and all our actions are about self-gratification, the rest of the world ceases to matter.

Mediation helps us make our mind calm and through introspection, looking inwards rather than outwards, we achieve peace. It involves different ways and methods, though the end goal is the same, achieving peace and rising above misery. One can focus on an object, a part of the body, an action like walking, but all the time, being mindful. One practices moment to moment awareness of the physical and mental state, observing every sensation that arises and passes away. This helps us understand how impermanent everything is, every feeling that comes, goes away, whatever begins will come to an end. We observe and we understand, and eventually imbibe this well enough to apply this truth to every aspect of our daily life.

Meditation need not stretch for 24 hours, day after day. It has to be learnt, and then practiced, preferably daily, whenever one can spare the time. It does require quiet surroundings to facilitate concentration, at least initially, till one has reached such an advanced stage that noise and surroundings no longer distract.

Meditation Centers in Yangon

There is always a long waiting list of prospective students of meditation, both local and international. Before enrolling at any center, it is important to know the precise meditative practices taught and practiced at each of these, and see which one we resonate with. Some teaching walking and sitting meditation, both being an exercise in mindfulness.

All the centers have comfortable living quarters, separate for men and women, provide simple, nutritious food, and basic facilities to accommodate new and old students. The rooms do not have any phones and it is generally recommended to not carry laptops, smart phones, books or reading material. Communication with the outside is possible through the office which has international calling facilities, fax machines etc. Doctors are available for medical emergencies.

Most centers teach Vipassana using the Mahasi Sayadaw method. Dhamma Joti Vipassana center was set up by S N Goenka and follows the tradition of Sayagi U Ba Khin. In most centers it is possible to receive instructions in English as well. Every year, thousands of international and local students of all age groups enroll for courses in these centers. The daily practice begins at dawn though timings of different centers vary, and continue till nearly 10 pm, with breaks for food and rest. There is time for individual mediation and group sittings, and teachers are available for improving the meditation technique and resolve doubt. For the few days spent in these centers, living is confined to one’s own physical frame, where one focusses on mindful actions of oneself, and not interact with others at all. Even eye contact is avoided.

Students are expected to adhere to the rules and regulations of the center, follow the eight precepts, practice noble silence, and eat twice a day, abstaining from eating after noon time. Beverages are offered in the evening. This gives us a sense of how little we need to survive, and how wasteful our lifestyle is, in the outside world. This may appear tough as an outsider, but once we step in, the purpose spurs us on, and the focus is on learning alone.

Some of the mediation centers in Yangon are listed below:

  • Dhamma Joti Vipassana Center
  • Chanmyay Yeiktha Meditation Center
  • Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha Mediation Center
  • Panditarama Meditation Center
  • Shwe Oo Min Dhamma Sukha Yeiktha
  • International Theravada Buddhist University

For those wanting complete solitude away from the city, can opt for the few forest retreats in Myanmar, like the Pak Auk Forest Monastery in Mon State, and the Panditarama Forest Monastery not far from Yangon.


Celebrating Thingyan in Yangon – Fifth Year In a Row

After more than four years in Yangon, I too, like everyone in Myanmar, wait with excitement and enthusiasm, for Thingyan, the water festival. Thingyan is the biggest festival, event and celebration of the year in Myanmar. It comes as a welcome break from the hectic pace of life, and brings all activities to a virtual standstill for all, when work stops and workplaces shut down, when the mood of holiday and festivity in the entire month of April means nothing will move. Except for the water spraying pavilions, loud music and vendors feeding the hundreds playing, the city or actually, the whole country is transformed, the buzz and bustle is missing, and there is just an ambience of relaxation and fun, noise and merriment. Those who can afford it, leave the country to take a break elsewhere and catch up on all that is missing in Myanmar.

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 There is Something about Thai Food

Look east, and two of the most exotic tourist destinations appear on the horizon- our mesmerizing Myanmar and its immediate neighbor, Thailand. One exudes an old world charm, and the other is cosmopolitan and modern, with tourism as its biggest industry. Both countries have a predominantly Buddhist population, and the tropical climate implies similar agricultural produce is cultivated, both being considered as rice bowls to the world in the past even as they works towards becoming the world’s largest rice producers again. Thailand is also the most popular gateway to Myanmar, offers employment to over 2 million Myanmar nationals who migrated across the border legally and illegally, and is one of the largest foreign investors in the country.

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Brown Rice – A Healthier Option Than White Rice?

Brown rice is one more fad spreading globally in an increasingly health conscious society, besides fitness, eating organic, putting fiber before processed foods, veges over meats, grilling over frying…the list gets longer by the day. All these are justified too, since they promise good returns in the form of better health and longevity, hopefully. The end result is the growing popularity of foods like quinoa, corn, wheat, beans, lean meats, tofu and greens.

For a long time, rice, synonymous with white rice, has been considered part of the list of healthy, body building foods, consumed as it is, by 3 billion people worldwide. It is only in the last decade or so that brown rice has appeared on the shelves of health food outlets, and is being touted as a far superior and healthier option than its white counterpart. It remains doubtful, how aware majority of the world’s population is, about the benefits of brown rice, and how many would consider switching to this whole grain, given that, for the present, it is consumed by a very small percentage of rice eaters.

Brown rice is virtually unheard of in Myanmar, and rarely seen on supermarket shelves. This happens to be in a country known to be one of the world’s leading rice producers. The country has yet to wake up to the nutritional advantages of brown rice to be able to process its paddy into this healthier type. Elsewhere too, brown rice has not yet become the staple of the common man, since it is surprisingly more expensive, available in select stores and its taste not yet palatable to all. Its shorter shelf life of 6-8 months is one of the many reasons why its supply levels are nowhere close to the supply of white rice that lasts up to ten years.

What is brown rice?

Brown rice is an unrefined, less processed, but more nutritious form of white rice. It is rice grains with just the husk removed, the bran and germ layers staying intact and giving it the light brown color. It is also called whole rice or cargo rice. Any harvested paddy can be processed to remove only its outermost layer (the husk) to result in brown rice. Thus we can get long grain, short grain or glutinous brown rice, all of which have a milder flavor, are a bit firm rather than soft, even after being cooked for long, and a flavor that is slightly nutty. The grains stay whole and provide the nutritional advantage of bran and germ, unlike the processed and refined white rice. While both bran and germ shorten the life of the rice, making it rancid sooner, they contain essential and beneficial fats, making brown rice a far healthier staple than even the best white rice.

Rice- From field to table

All over the world, short grain, medium and long grain rice in thousands of varieties is sold, with Basmati being rated as one of the best long grain varieties, for its fragrance and less starchy content. But basmati like all other white rice varieties is simply the polished, refined version of rice whose husk and layers of bran have been removed before being polished.

Most of the rice varieties are composed of 20% husk that forms the outer layer, a layer of bran that constitutes 11%, and the remaining 69% is the starch-rich endosperm, called milled rice.

Rice fields are submerged in water till the plant grows to its full height, at which point the water is drained. The paddy is ready to be harvested as the stems turn yellow. The stalks cut from the fields contain what is called ‘rough rice’ that has to be dried before milling to ensure that the moisture content ranges between 18-22%. The next step is the milling process which includes cleaning the kernels, clearing foreign matter and then removing the non-edible hull or husk. The rice that emerges is the wholesome brown rice. It still contains a layer of bran, which is highly nutritious with its reserves of essential oils and fats, minerals and vitamins.

White rice is a processed, refined version of the brown rice, lasts longer and has a finer taste, amenable to various cooking styles in cuisines from all over the world. White rice is lower in fiber, softer and easier to digest, though its high glycemic index raises the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. It has a longer shelf life and not considered a high allergy food.

Nutritional content of Brown rice

Brown rice scores over white rice due to the nutritive goodness contained in this whole grain. Its minimal processing to remove just the outer husk does not damage the healthful beneficial store of vitamins and minerals.

Being unpolished, brown rice contains the grain’s aleurone layer which is laden with healthy fats, essential for good health.

Brown rice has a high fiber content, which aids digestion, and prevents the accumulation of cancer causing substances. It is rich in minerals like iron, copper and phosphorus, besides many others, all of which are essential for a healthy body.

Brown rice is a treasure trove of vitamins. It contains vitamin A, C, D, E, K and complex B vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12.

The selenium contained in brown rice works towards synthesis and repair of damaged human cells, which trigger the self-destruction of disease causing cells. Selenium works in tandem with other minerals and vitamins to promote better health.

Brown rice is laden with manganese which helps produce energy from carbohydrates and protein. It also facilitates the synthesis of essential fatty acids, and is a component of critical antioxidant enzymes. A single cup of brown rice helps to meet 80% of the body’s daily requirement of manganese.

The magnesium contained in brown rice helps to regulate the body’s muscle and nerve tone by balancing the calcium action, serving as a calcium channel blocker in many nerve cells, thereby keeping the nerve cells relaxed, which may otherwise have go activated by calcium.

Brown rice is more filling and therefore cannot be eaten in large quantities, and is lower in carbohydrates and calories than white rice. This helps in maintaining lower weight levels and help people stay slimmer, as has been found in numerous research studies carried out on groups of people eating white and brown rice.

Wholegrain or brown rice contains phyto-nutrients that are quick to dissolve and be quickly absorbed in the bloodstream. These include phenolics that are some of the strongest phyto nutrients that help to fight disease. Plant lignan, another phyto nutrient, works as a shield from heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Keeping diseases at bay with Brown rice

The processing and refining of rice to produce fine, white rice leads to the loss of essential nutrients which, are beneficial for the human body. In the milling process and the polishing of rice, the grain loses 80% of vitamin B1, 67% of Vitamin B3, 90% of Vitamin B6, and half of its iron, manganese and phosphorus, while all the fiber and fatty acids are destroyed. This implies that all the goodness of rice as a whole grain is lost, and only a stomach filling, refined, starchy staple is being consumed, unless the polished white rice is fortified before being packaged.

The long list of nutrients of brown rice have been extensively tried and tested on large groups of people and the research findings indicate how regular consumption of brown rice instead of white rice can help to keep the following diseases away:


Most people look at brown rice as rice meant for patients of Type 2 Diabetes. Yes, it is the only type of rice diabetics can eat, but brown rice also works as a preventive of diabetes.  Studies conducted by researchers at Harvard, and at the Diabetes Research Foundation in India, reveal that substituting brown rice for white, led to a significant reduction in glucose levels and lowered serum insulin with just a single daily substitution. A weekly intake of two or more servings of brown rice reduced the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by around 10% as compared to those who do not eat brown rice. The risk reduced by 20% in the case of those who consumed 4-5 weekly servings of brown rice.

Brown rice works to protect against diabetes with its high fiber content, the high level of magnesium and its lower Glycemic Index. Magnesium in particular, serves as a cofactor for over 300 enzymes that impact the use of glucose in the body and the secretion of insulin.


Cancer is a killer disease, and unhealthy eating habits have led to a spurt in the occurrence of colon cancer. The high fiber content of brown rice, causes the fiber to bind to all the cancer causing chemicals, reduce constipation and improve bowel functions. Fiber also works as a preventive for breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Hormone dependent cancers are kept at bay due to phyto nutrients like lignans. Selenium, contained in brown rice, works with Vitamin E to facilitate antioxidant actions in the body to prevent cancer.


Brown rice is a whole grain, filling, chewy, low in energy density with its high fiber and water content. This implies that smaller quantities can be eaten at a time, which fill up the stomach, even though fewer calories have been consumed. Reduced calorie intake is one of the essentials for reducing weight. An affected metabolism which causes weight gain has been linked to refined and processed grains like white rice.

Heart Disease, Hypertension and High Cholesterol

Brown rice contains manganese that helps in synthesizing body fats, and the outer bran layer contains essential fatty acids like Omega-3 which reduce the risk of developing heart ailments. Magnesium helps to regulate muscle and nerve tone and serves as a calcium channel blocker, thus preventing hypertension and heart disease. New research carried out in Philadelphia indicates that a component in the outer subaleurone layer surrounding grains of brown rice inhibits angiotensin II, an endocrine protein that causes hypertension and artherosclerosis, or hardening of arteries, which eventually leads to heart disease. Selenium helps the action of antioxidants that help the heart, and the existence of fiber, is beneficial as well.


Brown Rice Potential in Myanmar

Rice paddy grows best in areas with abundance of water, and Asian countries like China, India, Thailand and Myanmar provide a significant percentage of the global rice produce. Myanmar with its abundant water resources, is ideal for rice cultivation. The delta region in Myanmar including Ayeyarwaddy, Yangon, Bago and Mon states form the main rice growing region in the country.  Rice is the main staple for the local population, and exported in large quantities to countries like China and Africa, among others. However, the demand is only for white rice. The existing mills can very easily process paddy to yield brown rice, but there is no market for this healthy product, due to lack of awareness and information about it. Its shorter shelf life further adds to the problem. The strata of society consuming brown rice in other countries, which is the health conscious, upper class elite, has yet to emerge in Myanmar.

Can Myanmar Become The World’s Leading Rice Exporter Again?

Rice is the staple diet of over 3 billion people worldwide, close to half the global population, and over 11% of our planet’s arable land is given to rice cultivation. Rice is an essential part of Myanmar cuisine as well, and the country with its abundance of land, water and labor resources, provides the perfect rice-growing environment. Little wonder then, that Myanmar was the world’s top rice exporter between 1961 and 1963, a position it subsequently lost to Thailand, and today, is the 9th biggest rice exporter. As the sixth largest rice producing country, and a nation on the threshold of rapid development, getting aid and technical expertise from the most advanced economies, there are hopes of Myanmar becoming one of the top rice exporting nations in the next few years.

Myanmar’s largely agrarian economy has rice as one of its chief crops. Figures available for 2011, reveal that the rice industry accounts for 13% of the country’s GDP, and provides employment to 70% of the population. The current financial year has seen a 41% increase in rice exports with 530,000 tons of rice worth USD 196 million, being exported between 1st April 2014 and 15th August 2014.

The chief paddy growing areas include Irrawady, Sittuang and Chinwin besides the Ayeyarwady delta zone in the southern part of the country. The main rice ecosystems of the country include the rain-fed and irrigated lowlands and uplands. The largest part of the ecosystem include the rain-fed lowlands, the deep water rice growing areas include the Delta region and the Rakhine State’s coastal strip. Rain-fed rice is cultivated in approximately 60% of the Delta region, including the Yangon, Bago and Ayeyarwady regions in the lower part of the country. The uplands include the Manadalay and Sagaing states.

Position as leading rice exporter lost forever?

The rice sector in Myanmar is complex due to the interplay to various factors like the diverse ecosystems of rice cultivation, the varying skills and technologies used in different parts of the nation and lack of cohesive government policies.

Exports become important, since the world markets can absorb increased output which small markets with limited purchasing power of the population, cannot. The foreign exchange inflows become essential since this facilitates investment for modernizing processes and introducing efficient systems of production, and optimal allocation of resources.

Myanmar lost its position as the top exporter of rice due to the sequence of events that unfolded in the post World War II period. In a short period of time, rice production came down to half its previous levels. While the other rice-producing nations like Thailand, Vietnam, China, Philippines, Cambodia and India, mechanized processes, introduced modern systems of irrigation and cultivation, invested in research to produce high-yielding varieties and found solutions to damages caused by floods and droughts, Burma continued in the same traditional manner, with extreme interference and control of the government, without gaining any access to credit, modern equipment, infrastructure or irrigation facilities.

Additionally, paddy procurement prices were kept at low levels by the government and this severely discouraged investment in rice cultivation, and even more so in rice milling and storage facilities desperately needed to secure the ready crop. Low procurement prices for premium varieties like Basmati, deterred farmers from growing them. Though the total area under rice cultivation continued to expand, the expansion rate was so slow that even in the 1960s, it remained lower than pre-war levels. A major setback to rice production was due to the government banning private money lenders from funding farmer needs, which left the latter without resources to buy essential inputs, and the government also did nothing to meet their credit requirements for a long time. It was only in 1976 that the Myanmar Agricultural Bank was set up. Progress, if any, has been very gradual. This perhaps explains why paddy yield per hectare did not increase for nearly two decades since 1980. Technical advancement and introducing machinery and equipment to mechanize the rice-growing process are limited to very small areas, even today.

Rice exports continued to fall for a number of reasons. Myanmar’s currency valuation by the government made rice uncompetitive and unprofitable. Its interventionist policies also affected prices, supply and procurement prices offered to farmers. Farmers had to face adverse weather conditions and related problems like droughts or floods, and their low input use due to lack of sufficient availability, made yields lower than other countries. Moreover, the country faced the imposition of sanctions that led to a sharp fall in foreign aid. Exports, till five years ago, were erratic and inconsistent, since they were discontinued each time there was a shortfall for domestic consumption.

Myanmar today, faces tough competition from other exporters in the region like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Added to this is a higher demand for better quality rice, while Myanmar rice loses out on quality, partly due to lack of modern milling facilities, which lead to a 15-20% loss in both quality and quantity. The country is only able to focus on markets that accept lower quality rice, and unfortunately, demand for these varieties is declining. According to a World Bank study, rice price volatility is highest in Myanmar, out of all South East Asian nations.

Efforts to regain lost glory

Agricultural experts are convinced that Myanmar has the potential of doubling its rice production, and there is sufficient room for quality improvements. Since Myanmar rice is $10-20 cheaper than rice of equivalent quality from other countries, capturing a segment of the export market may prove easier, especially for its 25% broken, Emata variety.

At present, Myanmar exports rice in large quantities to Australia, Singapore Thailand, China, and India, besides having resumed exports to Japan after 45 years. The EU has opened its markets for duty free imports from Myanmar. The vast, relatively untapped market of Africa, has started importing Myanmar rice, and has the potential to annually absorb thousands of tons more. According to sources, a surge in demand for rice from Russia has helped in enhancing rice exports by 41% between April and 15th August, 2014, as compared to the same period last year.

Due to the interplay of previously listed factors, productivity of rice is low as compared with global producers. The average yield of rice is 3 tons per hectare, which is half of the 6 tons per hectare yield in Japan. The yield is adversely affected by wastage at post-production and pre-consumption stages. Uneven distribution of inputs and dated farming skills also has an adverse impact on production.

There is a fervent need to improve cultivation in existing fields, modernize existing irrigation infrastructure and build new facilities, convert more land for rice cultivation, provide farmers with agricultural credit and also help them procure essential inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and stronger seedlings from high quality seeds. The need for technical development is severe, and farmers need to begin proper crop management, and the government will have to invest in physical development by building access farm roads, provide harvesters, dryers, storage and milling facilities. This is imperative for an economy dependent so much on agriculture.

Successful initiatives and Myanmar’s potential

Myanmar may well succeed in regaining its top position in rice exports even though this target may take more than a decade to achieve. This is because it possesses the most favorable natural environment for rice cultivation with abundance of land, water and cheap labor that are the essential prerequisites for this crop.

Efforts to reverse the damage witnessed in the aftermath of World War II, began through multiple initiatives taken by the government to revive the rice industry. An attempt to introduce the high yielding variety seeds released by the International Rice Research Institute through imports in 1968-69 was not well received, since the short height of the plants made them inappropriate for the flooded rice fields of the country, and the taste was also not acceptable to local palettes. The government’s tractor scheme also failed since small sized farms could not afford to use them, both due to impracticality and cost.

Policy changes began in the 1970s which led to doubling of rice procurement prices, increase of  procurement levels, offering credit through the Myanmar Agricultural Bank, and establishing connections with the International Rice research Institute. The Township rice production program initially launched in Shwebo and Taikke in Upper and Lower Burma respectively, was highly successful due to the new technology introduced.

It was only in 2010 that the setting up of Myanmar Rice Industry Association has finally brought together producers, traders and millers and it now works in tandem with the Ministry of Commerce to manage rice exports. Serious efforts are being made to foster public-private partnership. The Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) is encouraged to maintain contact with international rice research institutes to gain access to improved high yielding variety seeds that are then transferred to the seed division, a subsidiary of the Myanmar Agricultural Service (MAS). The Seed Division then uses its 32 seed farms across Myanmar to reproduce these seeds on mass scale. Hybrid variety seeds have already been introduced in parts of Shan State and Nay Pyi Taw.

Non-governmental organizations are actively involved in educating farmers and contributing to enhancing farm output with a long term perspective. The principal idea has been to educate farmers about effective and optimal pesticide use, handling weeding problems, improving soil fertility, and use appropriate agricultural tools while protecting the environment.  A project funded by UNOPS-managed Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT), and run by the Metta Development Foundation, has led to the setting up of 200 farm field schools in Shan and Kachin states to promote sustainable agricultural productivity. This has helped over 4700 rural households increase their rice production, which also translates into improved levels of earning and better living standards.

With earnest efforts in place, it is only a matter of time before the industry catches up with neighboring rice producing nations. The long and winding road to becoming a leading rice exporting nation will require a multi-pronged approach by the government, starting with improvements in infrastructure like, developing better port facilities, handling land ownership issues, introduction of easier credit facilities and assistance in use of technology for agriculture. On the finance front, it is important to change farm credit rules and permit other assets to be pledged as collateral for loans. Direct foreign investment in milling, warehousing and trading will bring the much needed foreign exchange to modernize the farm sector.

Myanmar is likely to see a part of the $80 million World Bank aid that the country received after a gap of 25 years in 2012, invested in agricultural infrastructure, which when combined with diverse farming techniques, is likely to push rice exports to 3 million tons by 2015, and 4 million tons by 2020.

Rice Facts

  • Rice is the staple diet of half the human race
  • Over 40,000 varieties of rice are grown worldwide
  • Rice originated in China and South East Asia in 10,000 BC
  • Only 5 % of the rice produced is exported, the rest is domestically consumed
  • Rice and rice products are considered healthier than wheat
  • Rice provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply

Some Myanmar Rice Industry Details

  • The Ayeyarwady regions is called Myanmar’s ‘rice bowl’.
  • Rice production has increased in the last decade due to increased area being used for summer rice production.
  • 80% of rice growing is done through transplanting, 20% through dry seeding and only a small amount by dry seeding.
  • In the last twenty years 228 large and small rural dams have been built to improve irrigation
  • 70% of land preparation through tillage is still done by using animal power. Only 30% is mechanized.
  • Nearly 100% threshing is done mechanically.


Myanmar’s Traditional Medicine

The belief in turning to nature to heal and cure, is strong in nearly all Asian nations, and in Myanmar, even more so. Traditional medicine treatments have been followed in Myanmar for generations and continue to be popular even today, though more in remote rural areas, not least due to non availability of western (allopathic) medicines. Herbs and medicinal plants are found in abundance in this largely agrarian country, and serve as highly affordable remedies for diseases.

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