As a first step, IFC — in cooperation with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) — organized a first of its kind public awareness event in Yangon. The event, which brought together more than 60 government representatives, leading food producers, retailers and industry experts, underlined that addressing food safety in a systemic and sustainable way has a clear business case, helping companies to increase sales, reduce costs and minimize risks.
“Agribusiness is a key sector for Myanmar’s economy, accounting for about 38% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 23 percent of exports,” said Dr Ye Tint Tun, director general of the Department of Agriculture, from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation. “We want to further increase exports and diversify opportunities in new markets for our producers. We hope that with IFC’s help we can learn from the experiences of countries around the world.”
IFC has over 15 years’ experience of providing food safety advisory services to agribusiness and retail clients globally. This work has helped 150 IFC clients from 30 countries attract $290 million in investments and generate over $230 million in new sales. Further, clients benefit from improved efficiencies and cost savings, contributing to stronger brand value.
“Investment in food safety management systems is a prerequisite for the growth of Myanmar’s agribusiness, and ultimately, benefits consumers with safer food and health,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC country manager for Myanmar. “Implementing internationally accepted food safety systems in the country can improve competitiveness among food producers in both its export and domestic markets, contributing to a stronger brand and preparing them for new markets.”
IFC noted that Myanmar is aspiring to open its agribusiness sector to global markets. Over the past two years, the World Bank Group has supported the government in reforming the food safety framework. 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 U.K. and Japan.