A Century of Rice Improvement in Burma by U Khin Win

By U Khin Win

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4,6). Rice production depended on the availability and efficiency of cattle. The success of the rice crop in Burma in any year depends on three main factors: regular and normal monsoon, good health among cultivators, and adequate supply of healthy draft cattle. For this reason, in subsistence agricultural systems, weather, labor, and draft cattle would constitute the main factors of rice production. Seed, investment, land, crop prices, market, storage, and transport would be less significant. But as the conditions in the rice RICE PRODUCTION UNDER THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT 25 industry changed, the role of these factors in rice production would become increasingly important.

Rice yield tended to go down with the years for two reasons: a) with time, yield estimates covered wider areas representing different types of soil and climate; and b) the fertility of the land had reached its minimum, and no further decline was likely to occur. The nutrients absorbed by the rice crop became almost equal to natural replenishment. Although yield tended to decline, rice production during this period increased at a remarkable pace due to the rapid expansion in area. The rate of production increase was more distinct and significant at the close of the last century and at the beginning of this century.

Even with the same yield, this constituted a surplus of rice, enabling the country to export. RICE PRODUCTION UNDER THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT 31 Rice exports Burma was a premier rice exporter and took the largest share of the international rice market. It exported 60% of production during the era, reaching 70% at the close of the period. The volume of rice exported in a particular year obviously depended on the output of that year, the level of internal consumption, and the demand on the international market.

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