Myanmar will start an oil crop development project soon in the current fiscal year of 2006-07 ( April-March) with a loan assistance provided by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to boost oil crop production, a local press media reported Monday.
The three-year project, which will be the biggest of its kind in decades, will cost about 14 million U.S. dollars, of which 12.3 million dollars will be loaned by the OPEC, while the rest borne by the government, the state-run Myanmar Agricultural Service was quoted by the Myanmar Times as saying.
The project, which also involves the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), will help reduce Myanmar's reliance on imported oil products, the sources said.
The plan, which will be mainly implemented in central Myanmar where most of the oil crops are cultivated, will also cover construction of oil extraction and processing plants and upgrading of oil refineries in Yangon, the sources added.
Meanwhile, the FAO will also provide aid to Myanmar for its extended oil palm cultivation under an agreement signed with Myanmar last month, according to earlier reports.
The agreement provides for improving oil palm research, development and production in the country.
Myanmar has been placing emphasis on growing edible oil crops in a bid to meet domestic consumption, outlining three major items of crops -- groundnut, sesame and sunflower to be grown in the three divisions of Sagaing, Mandalay and Magway.
In the 2004-05 fiscal year, Myanmar produced 249,000 tons of groundnut out of 654,880 hectares grown, 197,000 tons of sesame out of 1.46 million hectares and 94,000 tons of sunflower out of 511,100 hectares, according to official statistics.
The statistics also show that the oil palm cultivated area in Myanmar now covers over 130,000 acres (52,650 hectares) and that there still remains tens of thousands of hectares of vacant and fallow land suitable for reclamation for such crop plantation.
Myanmar produced some 250,000 tons of edible oil annually but still has to import the same amount of palm oil to meet its local demand, the figures indicate.