Local farmers and merchants are voicing their discontent with the current system for allocating licenses to meat distributors for being both antiquated and and exploitative.
Since the colonial era, The License C – a license for butchery – has been controlled by municipal committees and sold to villages via an auction system. An individual who received a License C was entitled to be the sole butcher and meat seller in their town or village.
The law has since changed, but only slightly, and many would say for the worse.
“There have been no licences issued or required in Yangon City and Nay Pyi Taw since last year, but other towns and villages are still subject to the same system,” said U Win Myint Maw.
“A License C costs nearly K100 million for one year. Many small farmers in the villages have farm animals that they don’t have chance to kill. They have to just sell them to the license holder,” said Dr Khin Hlaing, general secretary of the Myanmar Livestock Federation.
With meat distributors able to corner the trade in their given village, the price skyrockets, Dr Khin Hlaing explained.
U Win Myint Maw said: “The experts suggest that in Myanmar, 50 percent child mortality is a result of not eating enough meat, poultry, and eggs. If we [change] the meat sector and the licensing system, there could be cheap food available for everyone.”
The current system also creates waste by forcing unlicensed butchers to sell their meats on the black market to neighbouring countries.
“We have seized illegal meat that was being exported to China. We’ve seized 1993.5 tonnes of meat (one tonne is equal to 15 cows), which means more than 29,300 cows have been smuggled through the border,” said U Win Mint Maw.
One farmer from Mandalay said: “Using the License C system does not make any sense. It only creates difficulties for consumers and farmers.”