Millions of resource-poor farmers in stress-prone areas in Myanmar can cope with the effects of climate change by cultivating high-yielding stress tolerant varieties and diversifying food and income sources.
There is a pressing challenge to help farmers to better withstand or recover from natural disasters and the threats of climate change. In the past 10 years, the country has experienced severe drought, flooding, and cyclones with increased frequency and duration.
With the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and national partners in Myanmar, IRRI through the Stress-Tolerant Rice in Vulnerable Environments (STRIVE) project, improved the ability of vulnerable smallholder farms to recover from natural disasters.
“Through the projects participatory varietal selection, five farmer-selected lines were released as commercial varieties. Together with best management practices, these varieties were able to produce a 12-30% increase in farm yield from 2014 to 2017,” reports IRRI senior scientist and STRIVE project leader, Dr. Madonna Casimero. “Efforts were also initiated to improve community seed production and seed banking system. More than 200 tons of seed was produced in collaboration with local farmers,” Dr. Casimero adds.
STRIVE also trained hundreds of local farmers and extension staff on integrated rice-based farming systems and has established seven diversified farming model farms. More than 2000 farmers were also engaged in other knowledge sharing and learning activities through field days and workshops.
During the program’s meeting, USAID Representative Khun Thein Soe said that he is pleased to have met with farmers champions, as IRRI called them, in the project sites. “Let us continue working on the sustainability plan for quality rice seed production and diversified rice-based farming system activities through coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) in terms of registered seeds, field inspection, and seed analysis processes.”
The DOA and DAR officials committed to support the farmers by facilitating access to registered seeds, support the field inspection and analysis of seeds produced by farmers. DOA will continue to collaborate with the farmers by taking them as “contact seed producers” for the seed production program of the local DOA offices. The farmers also committed to continue producing seeds and collaborate with the DOA as lead farmers in the extension and promotion of diversified and intensified rice-based farming systems. The farmer groups also shared their plans to expand their seed production and seed business activities and help promote the new, high yielding and stress tolerant rice varieties to more farmers beyond their communities.