Ko Win Than on his farm where he grows beas and roselle in Thar Yar Kone village, Labutta Township, Myanmar, March 2, 2017. Photo from Han May May Aung
Action Aid, from the BRACED Myanmar Alliance, has been teaching over 450 farmers in Myanmar to use smart agricultural techniques to withstand climate extremes like heavy monsoon rains, that frequently damage fields and soil in the country.
As part of the programme, it provides support ranging from trainings, community meetings, model plot demonstration, and grants to buy seeds and farming equipment.
Win Than, a 32-year-old farmer who lives at Tharyar Gone village in the south of Myanmar, is one of the project beneficiaries.
“I have learned to make and use natural fertilisers and pesticides, and to cultivate vegetables during rainy seasons,” he explained. “The cash grants have also allowed me to buy seeds and cultivate a larger range of vegetables.”
“These techniques have allowed our family to sell more vegetables, increasing our income by about $40 a month,” he said. “That gives us more financial freedom.”
Given a lack of land, resources and equipment, Win Than and other village farmers used to rely on subsistence farming.
“These days, we [villagers] have expanded our cultivation of vegetables, which allows us to consume fresh produce from our own farms,” said Than. “We also derive an additional income by farming and selling vegetables all year round, which didn’t use to be possible in the monsoon season.”
“My family no longer needs loans to run the household (buying food, sending our kids to school etc) thanks to the extra income from selling the vegetables”.
Than is saving to buy a water pump to better irrigate his farm, so he can cultivate vegetables on a larger scale – and is now encouraging fellow farmers to do the same.