YANGON, MYANMAR — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, signed an agreement with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) to help food sector companies address and improve food safety practices. Another goal is to develop the country’s agribusiness sector to increase exports, draw investments, and generate jobs. 

According to IFC, investment in food safety management systems is a prerequisite for the growth of Myanmar’s agribusiness, a key sector for the nation’s economy. It accounts for 38% of gross domestic product and 23% of the country’s exports.

The agreement builds on an initiative that started in November last year. IFC, in cooperation with UMFCCI, organized a public awareness event in Yangon to address food safety issues with government representatives, leading food producers, retailers, and industry experts. The aim was to underline that addressing food safety in a systemic and sustainable way has a clear business case.

“Myanmar’s agribusiness sector is keen to adopt world class food safety management systems,” said U Ye Min Aung, vice-president of UMFCCI. “An efficient system will ultimately benefit consumers with safer food and health. It will also help increase exports and create jobs, thus driving the economy.”

IFC noted that its internationally recognized standards have a proven track record of delivering results, which include better risk management and operational efficiency, among others. IFC has over 15 years’ experience of providing Food Safety Advisory Services to agribusiness and retail clients globally.

“Myanmar will join other countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam in the region, which have benefited from IFC’s expertise in implementing internationally accepted food safety systems,” said Vivek Pathak, IFC director for East Asia and the Pacific. “Implementation of food safety standards and practices can help food enterprises improve efficiency and cut costs, contributing to a stronger brand value and enabling Myanmar to diversify opportunities in new markets.”

 This work has helped 150 IFC clients from 30 countries attract $290 million in investments and generate over $230 million in new sales.  IFC also helps client companies introduce an internationally recognized food safety system and works with governments and industry experts to build local capacity through training programs and workshops.

IFC’s advisory work on improving Myanmar’s food safety practices, reforming regulations, and improving the business environment in the agribusiness sector is supported by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom and the Japanese government.    

The UMFCCI is a national level non-governmental organization representing and safeguarding the interests of the private business sector. Founded in 1919, UMFCCI comprises 16 regional and state Chambers of Commerce and Industry, nine border trade associations, 51 affiliated associations and about 40,000 members.