MYANMAR SMALL-SCALE FISH FARMERS AND FISH PROCESSORS GET SUPPORTED DURING COVID-19
MYSAP - Myanmar Sustainable Aquaculture Programme – is funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. MYSAP has been working intensively with smallholder fish processors and vendors to improve fish value chains since April 2017. Through their expertise, they will assist in the co-development of post-harvest fish value chain innovations with female micro-entrepreneurs working on fish processing and vending, empowering these women to solve problems they face every day. However, due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, working closely with female micro-entrepreneurs and surveying their business in the marketplace was temporarily halted.
They conducted a questionnaire survey through telephone interview to collect data. The survey collected information on the level of mobile phone accessibility, digital abilities, and the overall COVID-19 understanding of fish value chain actors targeted by MYSAP Inland with innovative fish post-harvest training, and messaging. The result shows that phone usage is fairly ubiquitous in Burmese market chains. The main mobile phone uses were for social communication, work communication, trading and seeking new information and, especially using Facebook chat and video features.
The pandemic has brought an unprecedented challenge to many industries, including aquaculture. The strict social distancing leads to many businesses that had slowed or completely stopped. Traders reported that before the COVID-19 crisis, daily net income ranged between a loss of MMK 5,000 up to a profit of MMK 40,000 (loss of US$ 3.57 to a profit of US$ 28.57). During the COVID-19 restrictions period, net income was reported to have decreased significantly, ranging from a loss of MMK 5,000 up to a profit of MMK 20,000 (loss of US$ 3.57 to a profit of US$ 14.29.
During the COVID-19 situation, MYSAP Inland has supported households to partially and completely harvest their ponds, market their fish, and support the ongoing operations of food value chains for essential food items including rice, eggs, fish, vegetables, and fruit. Through the implementation of COVID-19 preventative measures and practices, MYSAP Inland has proactively helped minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection and spread within the fish value chain community. MYSAP, BoPInc, GIZ Myanmar, WorldFish Myanmar and other key fish value chain actors plan to work together going forward to virtually design, co-create and deliver innovative fish post-harvest training in the Central Dry Zone and upper regions of Myanmar.