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IFC invests in Asian inputs company

The IFC is stepping up its focus on Myanmar, where 70% of the population generate their main income from farming.

The International Finance Corporation has issued a $10 million convertible bond to Myanmar’s leading inputs company to help build a new production plant adhering to World Bank environmental standards.

Myanma Awba Group is building a crop protection inputs plant that could meet 50 percent of internatl crop protection chemical demand in the next few years.

As well as being the first inputs facility in the country to meet World Bank environmental criteria, the plant will create about 500 jobs. It will also improve access for smallholder farmers, in a country where crop yields lag behind that of its neighbours.

“Supporting agribusiness is one of IFC’s priorities in Myanmar as it helps increase rural income and promote inclusive growth for about 70 percent of the country’s labour force working in this sector,” said IFC Myanmar country manager Vikram Kumar.

The IFC began engaging with Myanmar in August 2012, focusing on the infrastructure and banking sector. It has also invested in Yoma Agricultural & Logistics Holding, the first greenfield provider operating large leases in Myanmar.

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for over 70 percent of the Myanmar population, and the government is implementing new projects and laws to encourage investment in the sector, according to the FAO. In 2013, it implemented a family farming programme for smallholder access to debt, and this year signed into law the National Land Use Policy which the FAO said goes some way to recognising private tenure rights and encouraging sustainable land use.

IFC has significantly scaled up its global agribusiness investments in recent years. It invested $3.4 billion across the agribusiness supply chain in the financial year ending June 2016. IFC’s agribusiness portfolio as of June 2016 stood at $5.6 billion.