Myanmar economist wins Umali Award for agricultural development


U Tin Htut Oo. Photo: Mizzima

A distinguished agricultural economist from Myanmar whose initiatives contributed much to the country’s agriculture sector liberalization has won the Dioscoro L. Umali Achievement Award in Agricultural Development, according to a statement on 23 November. U Tin Htut Oo is credited for the establishment of Myanmar’s in-service training in advanced technology and agribusiness for young agricultural professionals and brokering the only technical assistance projects implemented in Myanmar over the past 25 years. 

U Tin Htut Oo is the first Myanmar and fifth Southeast Asian to receive the Umali Award.

The award is bestowed biennially by the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) headed by Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) of the Philippines, and the Dioscoro L. Umali Foundation, Inc. (DLUF).

Umali was a renowned Filipino agriculturist and development practitioner who was also SEARCA’s founding director and a scientist who helped immensely in developing agricultural research and development. Founded in 1966—and celebrating its 50th founding anniversary this year—SEARCA is mandated to build the capacities of Southeast Asian institutions working in agricultural and rural development through graduate education, expert training programs, research and development, and knowledge management.

An alumnus of the University of Mandalay, Myanmar and Ohio State University, USA, U Tin Htut Oo has served as Director-General of the Department of Agricultural Planning under then Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation for eight of his 37 years in public service. For his work, he had won prestigious awards that include the Good Public Service Medal and Excellent Performance in Administrative Field. He has also worked with international and regional institutions and organizations.

U Tin Htut Oo was cited for having established Myanmar’s Agricultural Market Information Service and published the weekly journal Agribusiness News (ABN). He also initiated the “New Vision for Agricultural and Economic Policy” under the former authoritarian military regime. Under the current administration, U Tin Htut Oo founded the Myanmar Agricultural Network to promote the “New Vision in Agriculture for the New Myanmar.”

The conferment rites will be held on November 24 as part of SEARCA’s 50th anniversary celebration. Immediately after the awarding ceremony, U Tin Htut Oo will deliver his lecture titled “Disruptive Innovation for Transformational Agricultural Development in Myanmar: Empowering Smallholder Farmers to become Agribusiness Entrepreneurs.”

At present, U Tin Htut Oo serves as Chairman of the Center for Economic and Social Development in Myanmar. He is also the Chairman of the Agriculture Group, Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd., a private company in Myanmar listed in the Singapore Stock Exchange.

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