Myanmar, an agro-based country, is home to 55 million people2 . The agricultural sector, including livestock and fishery, contributes to 30 to 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and 20 to 30 percent of Myanmar’s total export earnings (World Bank, 2014). In terms of employment, approximately 70% of labour force is reportedly engaging in agricultural activities and dependent directly on agriculture for their income.
The livestock sector contributes about 20% of the agricultural GDP. It helps improving the lives of many people in Myanmar, including people who are involved in raising animals, providing inputs and services, and involved in downstream activities including trading, slaughtering, processing and consumption.
Cattle and buffaloes are mainly raised by smallholders for draught purposes in mixed crop-livestock systems. Beef consumption is not common in Burmese culture. Therefore, beef cattle farming are still in an initial stage, and very few beef cattle farms can be found in some cities. Draft cattle and buffaloes are also used for milk by small-scale dairy farmers in some regions, particularly in Mandalay and Sagaing.
The government policies currently focus on cattle for draft power – restrictions on slaughtering below 16 years of age, and live cattle exports. However, unofficial exports live cattle from Myanmar have increased notably recently due to a growing demand from China and Vietnam markets.
Cross-border price differentials played a crucial role in shaping the cattle trade patterns. Live cattle price inside Myanmar is significantly lower than neighbouring countries. Reportedly a cow/buffalo bought for K500,000 in Dry Zone could be resold in border areas at 2 to 4 times higher price (Thein, 2014).
2 2014 Census