Farmer in Kyauktaw, Rakhine. Photo: UNDP

Amyotha Hluttaw Agriculture Committee takes pioneering step by launching a parliamentary inquiry into agricultural chemicals, the first time in the history of Myanmar in which a parliamentary Committee will develop in-depth policy recommendations to tackle a pressing problem that affects the health and quality of life of farmers, workers and consumers across the country.

Every year hundreds of parliamentary committee inquiries around the world look into issues that affect the daily lives of their citizens. From road safety, gun ownership, immigration, artificial intelligence or climate change, to name a few. Parliamentary committee inquiries are a new practice in Myanmar which will improve the quality of policy and the accountability of government.

The Agriculture Committee of Myanmar’s Upper House of Parliament (Amyotha Hluttaw), under the leadership of the Committee Chair, U Aung Kyi Nyunt, is launching a first parliamentary committee inquiry on the topic of chemical residues in agriculture. Its objective is to support the Hluttaw and the government in gathering information and developing policy options to tackle this pressing issue for Myanmar society.

Myanmar Parliament is trying to understand how to limit agricultural chemical residues harmful effects in produce and crops. Market in Kyauk Padaung. Photo: UNDP

Members of the Committee are concerned about the impact of residues from herbicides and fertilizers in crops and produce. Chemicals affect farmers’ health, as well as consumers and the environment. Reducing the harmful effects of these chemicals is an important public policy challenge for Myanmar.

With support of the UN Development Programme, the inquiry will follow the essential steps for parliamentary committee inquiries under international best practice. The process has started with a public call for submissions from government, civil society, the private sector and individuals. After the submission period ends, on 31 October, the Committee will hold hearings to further explore the information it has received. Afterwards, the Committee will produce a final written report including key conclusions and recommendations for government about addressing the problem through new policy solutions.

Inquiry open to all

The inquiry, as established in its terms of reference, will revise current agricultural chemical practices, their effects on human health and the environment, how chemical residues can impact export prices and volumes, viable organic alternatives; and opportunities for legal and regulatory reform in this policy area.

People around Myanmar and organizations interested in contributing their ideas to this inquiry can contact the Committee staff or their representative in the Amyotha Hluttaw. Through social media can also follow the inquiry.

UNDP’s parliamentary support helps bringing the Hluttaws closer to the people

UNDP Myanmar in close partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and thanks to the support of the governments of Australia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, has provided information and advocacy to Myanmar’s Hluttaws around the practice of committee inquiries. “We have supported the Amyotha Hluttaw Agriculture Committee in its preparation and planning for the inquiry ,” UNDP Myanmar Country Director Peter Batchelor said, “We are extremely pleased to see this commencing”.

“UNDP has been supporting the institutional development of Myanmar’s Hluttaws for many years, and the launch of this inquiry is an important step forward for the development of Myanmar’s parliaments,” he added. “This inquiry will help to find solutions for the problem of agricultural chemical residues, which is crucial for Myanmar’s sustainable development. But the inquiry process itself also brings the Hluttaw closer to the people of Myanmar by involving them in developing effective public policy. This is a step forward in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Farmer goes to toil the land in the Dry Zone. Chemicals have a direct impact on the health and income of small farmers. Photo: UNDP

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