Thursday, March 30, 2017

Myanmar farmers, extension agents join workshop on mechanized land leveling to boost agricultural development

Farmers from four townships covered by MyRice and CORIGAP projects attended the workshop on laser land leveling. They also shared the current best management practices they are trying out in their farms during a Learning Alliance meeting.

MAUBIN, Myanmar—The Ayeyarwaddy Delta, the rice bowl of Myanmar, is endowed with vast land and water resources. However, traditional practices prevent smallholder farmers from achieving optimal rice yields. Increasing farmers’ incomes and productivity require technological innovations such as laser land leveling.

“The precision land leveling using laser-guided system is a technology option that provides a more even land surface resulting in improved crop productivity through reduced irrigation water, chemical input, and more uniform crop growth,” said Engr. Caling Balingbing, an agricultural engineer from the Postharvest and Mechanization Unit at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Balingbing was one of the experts tapped for a laser land leveling demonstration in Maubin on 23 March.  About 60 farmers, extension agents, and private sector and non-government organization personnel from Daik-U, Hlegu, Maubin, and Letpadan Townships participated in the demonstration as an option for better crop management.  The activity is part of the Learning Alliance, which brings varied stakeholders with similar interests to assess and develop ways to optimize the use of rice-based technologies and practices.

“This event is a great opportunity to interact with NGOs, the private sector, Department of Agriculture, and farmers from other townships,” said Romeo Labios, IRRI scientist and agronomist in Myanmar. “Taking advantage of the Learning Alliance platform, stakeholders can discuss how these technologies from IRRI can provide efficient use of land and water resources and other farm inputs to increase productivity and get a better income. They can learn from each other’s experiences and interact with our private sector guests how you can use this and other technologies.”

“Just by observing the field, I can immediately see the difference and the benefit of laser-guided land leveling it will bring to my farm,” said U Shwe Toe, a  rice and pulse farmer leader from Maubin. “I want to use this immediately; I hope that we can come up with ways to own these technologies.”

“This is a good initiative that helped farmers understand the benefit of the technology,” said Dr. Myo Aung Kyaw from Pioneer Agrobiz, Inc. “From the discussions, they are really convinced that this technology would really work well on their farms.”

Other IRRI experts at the laser land leveling demonstration were Yan Lin Aung, agricultural engineer, and Su Su San and Hlwan-Oo, assistant scientist and researcher, respectively at the IRRI Myanmar office.

The event was organized by Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprints (CORIGAP-PRO) and MyRice project. CORIGAP-PRO  is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, while MyRice is funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research.

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