Monday, November 24, 2014

Myanmar: Farmers discuss experiences in agricultural practices at village-level Learning Alliances in Maubin and Bogale townships

By Reianne Quilloy and Martin Gummert

The Learning Alliance (LA) team held village-level LA meetings at Maubin and Bogale Townships on 18 and 20 November, respectively. Facilitated by IRRI, the LA is a platform engaging different rice value chain actors and support service providers including the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), government agencies, private enterprise, and non-government organizations to share and develop agricultural practices in areas identified by different stakeholders in rice value chain in Myanmar. Funded by the Livelihoods for Food Security Trust Fund (LiFT) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), fifty-four participants attended the 4th village-level LA meeting at the Department of Agriculture office in Maubin Township. The group reviewed topics on crop variety and marketing conducted in 2013. They also identified the important lessons they learned from these activities. The meeting also opened opportunities for discussion between farmers who tried the rice and pulse varieties. The group identified fertilizers, marketing, and reliable seed sources as the topics for their next learning meeting.

About 40 people from the four project villages attended the 5th LA village-level meeting in Bogale Township with LiFT partners from GRET, Welthungerhilfe, Radanar Ayar, and Proximity Designs. Taking stock of the previous learning agenda, the group discussed what they have learned from the market visit to Bayint Naung and Wardan market in May. Some farmers who tried using the IRRI flatbed dryer and stored grains using GRET’s communal storage also shared about their experience. The Bogale LA group identified producing improved rice quality through good drying practices and use the communal storage facility for the next meeting. Members will also try to sell their produce in Yangon market.

“The Learning Alliance brings out the potential from the village in terms of improving their rice quality and linking to better markets,” Martin Gummert,  a postharvest expert at IRRI and lead scientist for the Postharvest and Learning Alliance, remarked about the progress of the learning activities since 2013.  “It can serve as a model for other villages in Myanmar.

“But it also improves the project’s learning process; we will learn a lot from the participants, and we (IRRI project team) will have an idea what to do next,” he added.

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