Rural off-farm incomes in Myanmar’s dry zone

Aye Myint Zu, Htet Htet Khine, Win, Khin Zin, Sithu Kyaw
Food Security Policy Project Research Highlights

Our study offers the following important findings relating to off-farm incomes in the Dry Zone: 1. Off-farm activities are a major source of income. Only 31% of Dry Zone income is generated directly from farming; off-farm self-employment is equally as important. Non-farm enterprises account for 20% of income, and remittances 15%. 2. Agriculture is central to rural employment. Fiftyeight percent of working-age individuals consider farming or agricultural labor to be their primary occupation, and agricultural labor is by far the most important secondary occupation. 3. Women and men work off-farm in similar numbers, but men earn higher wages. The gender wage gap is most pronounced in casual employment. There is less gender disparity in wages for non-farm work than for on-farm work. 58% of non-farm enterprises are run by women. 4. Non-farm enterprises are growing rapidly. Since 2011, the numbers of retail stores more than doubled, agricultural trading and processing trebled, and rental services providers more than quadrupled. Non-farm income is the most important source of startup capital for these businesses. 5. Most of businesses are self-operated microenterprises. The vast majority hire no labor. The rural non-farm economy is not yet a major provider of jobs, other than to business proprietors themselves.