Dhaka, Yangoon to resume talks on contract farming
Monday, 25 August 2008

Desk Report

Myanmar is expected to send a top-level delegation to Dhaka in October, headed by the junta's second in-command General Maung Aye, to resume talks on contract farming with Bangladesh among other bilateral issues, the foreign secretary said.

General Aye's visit was originally scheduled for August last year, but was delayed due to mass protests against the military regime in Myanmar.
The foreign office is yet to finalise the itinerary of the second in-command of Myanmar's highest governing body—the State Peace and Development Council—but he will meet foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury among others during his visit, foreign ministry officials said.
"Myanmar is expected to send a large delegation to Bangladesh in the first half of October, headed by the SPDC's second in-command General Maung Aye," foreign secretary Md Touhid Hossain told bdnews24.com Friday.
The secretary said one of the main aims of the bilateral talks was to discuss contract farming in Myanmar by Bangladeshi entrepreneurs.
He mentioned that Myanmar had previously agreed to lease at least 50,000 acres of land to Bangladeshi businessmen who would invest in cultivation of rice, onions and other agricultural staples. The produce would be sold in Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi contractors would have to employ Myanmar farmers for the farm work; they would only be allowed to employ Bangladeshis if no skilled Burmese were available for specialised jobs, said Touhid.
"If the contract farming deal is signed, we will secure a major source of food procurement," said the foreign secretary.
Bangladesh and its second-largest neighbour Myanmar have agreed in principle in recent years to cooperate in the agricultural sector.
Foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury visited Yangon in April last year, to propose to Myanmar policy makers that Bangladeshi entrepreneurs invest in agricultural there.
The Myanmar government responded positively and sent a four-member delegation, headed by its deputy minister for foreign affairs U Kyaw Thu, to Dhaka in July last year.
The Myanmar side at the time informed Bangladesh that the SPDC's second in-command would visit Bangladesh in August to finalise the deal on contract farming and construction of a cross-border highway.
A memorandum of understanding was signed on July 23 last year to connect Bangladesh with Myanmar by a 'friendship bridge'.
Dhaka agreed to finance a 23km road from Taungboro to Bawlibazar in Myanmar while the remaining 120km from Bawlibazar to Kyautaw would be built by Yangon.
The highway will be a key step for Bangladesh to a direct road link to China.

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