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Monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 in Myanmar: Food Vendors – June and July 2020 survey round

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Bart Minten, Than Zaw Oo, Derek Headey, Isabel Lambrecht, and Sophie Goudet

Key Findings

  • Prevention measures for COVID-19 have been taken in most wet markets in Myanmar.
    There have been widespread mandates to require vendors and consumers to wear masks.
    Most interviewed vendors also report that they are practicing social distancing.

  • COVID-19 related changes have seemingly led to lower profits for most food vendors

  • Two-thirds of vendors reported lower profits during the survey period compared to the same period in a normal year.

  • Only 12 percent of interviewed businesses indicated that their business had not been affected by COVID-19.

  • Availability of food is currently not a major issue at the national level. Food vendors reported food prices and quantities purchased to be similar to what they expect during the same period in a normal year.

  • However, we see emerging issues with some products in parts of the country:

  • About half of the food vendors mentioned increasing prices for chicken and pork. They also indicated lower quantities of these products being purchased.

  • Price increases for animal-source foods and cooking oils are especially seen in the West and the North of the country, where prices are significantly higher than elsewhere.

Recommended Actions

  • The interviewed vendors did not note any major disruptions to food markets in the surveyed areas. It is therefore important that vendors and their suppliers are allowed to continue trading and that the smooth functioning of the food trading sector, with little restriction on national and international food transport flows, is seen by all stakeholders as a priority during this COVID-19 pandemic.

  • However, continued attention should be paid to ensure that important safety requirements in food markets are maintained.

  • Further close monitoring of food markets is needed, especially given that Myanmar is in monsoon season, typically the most difficult months of the year given high food prices and increased levels of food insecurity in that period. Special attention may be required in the West and the North to monitor price increases in already vulnerable areas.

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