Japan will launch a 390 million yen ($3.6 million) project in May in Myanmar to boost irrigation and agricultural management as part of efforts to increase productivity and eradicate poverty in the Southeast Asian country.

Development of the agriculture promotion system, the improvement of the rice value chain, among other things, will be conducted in six townships in the Shwebo district of the Sagaing region, home to some of the largest irrigated farmland in Myanmar.

(A farmer is ploughing a field with two cattle in the Sagaing region.)[LightRocket/Getty/Kyodo]

The Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Myanmar government signed an agreement for the project in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw last week.

The two sides also aim to secure a stable water source by establishing a water management organization for farmers and improve profitably by obtaining a geographical indication tag for Shwebo Pawsan, a high-end variety of local rice.

The project, designed to improve the income and management skills of farmers, runs from May 2020 to November 2024, according to JICA.

About 60 percent of the Myanmar people engage in agriculture, with agriculture, forestry and fisheries accounting for about 30 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

However, the development and dissemination of agricultural technologies are not that advanced in Myanmar, with its rice yields standing at 3.50 tons per hectare, lower than the 5.54 tons per hectare in Vietnam, 5.15 tons per hectare in Indonesia and 4.34 tons per hectare in Bangladesh, JICA said.

Myanmar's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation's Department of Agriculture will carry out activities related to agricultural promotion, while the ministry's Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department will engage in participatory water management activities.

Japan has already started repairing irrigation facilities as well as bridges and roads in the Shwebo district as part of another assistance project, according to JICA.