Thursday, March 9, 2017

Australian-funded projects are helping Myanmar rice farmers improve their livelihood and income

Farmers and DoA and DoF partners hold a consultation meeting to talk about the impact of the ACIAR-funded projects. (Photo by Aung Myo Thant)

MAUBIN TOWNSHIP, Myanmar—Rice farmers in Ayeyarwady  and Bago Regions are reaping the benefits from the adoption of new improved rice varieties, best crop management practices and post-harvest management introduced through two collaborative projects funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The projects focus on improving farmers' profitability and the productivity of rice-rice and rice-pulse cropping systems and promotes a system where fish are grown concurrently with rice.

On 27 February, Mr. Andrew Campbell, the chief executive officer of ACIAR, members of ACIAR’s Commission for International Agricultural Research, and Ms. Esther Sainsbury, first secretary of Australian Embassy in Myanmar visited the project sites in Maubin Township and met with some of the beneficiaries of the projects.

In Tar Pet West Village, Maubin Township, the officials visited the mini rice-fish project, a 12-month project led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in collaboration with World Fish, the Department of Agriculture (DoA) and Department of Fisheries. The Commissioners also met with farmers and DoA partners involved in the Diversification and intensification of rice-based systems in lower Myanmar (MyRice) project. The project showcased the lightweight rice thresher, hermetic seed storage systems, a seeder for pulses, the Solar Bubble Drier for rice, and the Solar Tunnel Drier for fish.

ACIAR officials visit the rice-fish trial project site In Tar Pet West Village. (Photo by Su Su San)

“I am pleased to see the work of IRRI and WorldFish on-the-ground as well as the positive responses and benefits garnered by farmers in the community,” said Sainsbury.

Farmers from several villages in Maubin shared their experiences with the best management practices (BMPs) for rice-rice, rice-pulse, rice-fish systems; the Learning Alliance; and the business models of MyRice, and the impact of the project on their livelihoods.

“The project enhanced the knowledge and experience of our technicians while farmers benefited significantly from the improved technologies and best management practices (BMP) for rice-rice and rice-pulse production and post-production,” said U Theik Soe, DoA District Manager.

The team also visited the farmers’ 2-hectare seed production area for Yaenelo 7, a drought-tolerant rice variety suited for the summer cropping season, and the 5-hectare BMP showcase for summer rice. The BMPs include improved varieties (Yaenelo 4 and Yaenelo 7), drum seeder for row planting, and improved nutrient, pest, and weed management.

“I could make more money by selling seeds since the price is higher than grain,” said U Kyaw Thu, a farmer and seed producer.

“Because of higher yields and lower input costs (in BMPs), I am able to earn more money,” said U Thaung Win. “I was able to buy television and solar panels from extra money from 2016 monsoon harvest. I was also able to send my children to school for longer than I had planned.”

“I am happy to see that IRRI  and WorldFish works together and produce effective achievements on-the-ground in Myanmar,” said Campbell.

The ACIAR Commissioners included Don Heatley (Commission Chairman), Catherine Marriot, Lucinda Corrigan, Tony Gregson, John Cook. Other accompanying delegates were Eleanor Dean (general manager, Outreach and Capacity Building), Peter Horne (general manager, Country Programs), Suzanne Gaynor (executive officer), Maree Livermore (executive officer, Country Programs), Dulce Simmanivong (regional manager), Ohnmar Khaing and Myo Thura (ACIAR Myanmar program manager and program coordinator, respectively).

The IRRI Team for MyRice is led by Dr. Grant Singleton with Dr. Romeo Labios, U Aung Myo Thant, U Yan Linn Aung, Daw Su Su San, and Daw Tin Tin Myint.

The World Fish Team is led by Dr. Michael Akester with Drs. Manjurul Karim and Xavier Simon André Tezzo.

The International Water Management Institute was represented by Dr. Robyn Johnston.

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