In early December 2019, the Land tenure & development technical committee (CTFD) organised two days of reflection on land policies in Myanmar. This seminar was held in the offices of Agence française de développement (AFD) in Paris, and aimed to generate discussion and debate among CTFD members and partners on historic and contemporary land issues in Myanmar.
Presentations and discussions took place in several sessions. Firstly, the present situation regarding current land trajectories and reforms in four Mekong countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) was described, enabling the Burmese specificity in this region to be highlighted. This was followed by a more historic perspective of access to land in Myanmar, in relation with the construction of the State and its production systems. Specific focus was placed on issues specific to the various agroecological areas in the country: from forest regions in the uplands where customary land tenure – not recognised by the State – remains predominant, to the rice-growing plains of the centre and the delta, still largely governed by land laws inherited from the colonial era. The second day of the seminar was devoted to contemporary issues and the governmental agenda in terms of land reform in the country, while the amendment recently adopted clearly endangers land tenure security for farmers, especially in the upland regions. Discussions also covered the various support programmes underway in the country and the creation of alliance networks in a context where civil society remains very divided and, as yet, not very structured.
Participants had an opportunity to discuss and debate these issues with a range of panellists and experts: land experts, agronomists, anthropologists and leaders of land governance projects in the region, some of whom had travelled from Myanmar for the occasion. These comprehensive presentations and debates will be the subject of a summary brief, which will be published in the near future on the Land tenure & development technical committee website.