Important Message for Pulses Farmers in Myanmar: Work Together!
Pulses are a key export commodity for Myanmar, and are currently ranked 4th most exported goods. In recent years, the export volumes of black gram, green gram (mungbean), pigeon pea and chickpeas have steadily increased. However, the quantity and quality can still be much improved, as Myanmar strives to bring its production up to Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Good Agricultural Practice standards.
Blog by Bram Peters, Project Officer for ICCO in Myanmar
On the 25th of February, at the Pulses Forum in Nyaungdong, Ayeyarwaddy Delta Region, government officials and researchers shared their insights regarding the Myanmar pulses sector and the opportunities therein for Myanmar farmers. Approximately 50% of pulses in Myanmar are grown in the Delta agro-ecological zone, planted after the rice harvest. Here, next to rice, blackgram is the most grown agricultural commodity.
However, import restrictions from the Indian market on specific pulses such as blackgram can affect the extent to which Myanmar sells internationally. Due to these fluctuations of Indian market access, the Myanmar government is encouraging farmers to diversify and try other pulses. Researchers and economists from the Ministry of Commerce and Department of Agricultural Research particularly highlighted the potential of mungbean and soybean for this area.
Presenting lessons learned in the mungbean value chain
ICCO Cooperation was also present at the Forum, and was invited to speak about the P4 project and its lessons learned for the attentive farmers. The P4 project – or ‘Pulses, People, Planet and Profit’ – aims to improve the income of smallholder mungbean farmers. Together with the ICCO team, two farmer leaders shared the experiences and the achievements of the P4 project so far:
- Realized a better price for GAP mungbeans in Yangon region for FDA farmers through collective marketing, with the added spin-off that non-GAP mungbeans produced by other farmers also receive a slightly better price.
- GAP group certificates were granted by Department of Agriculture for more than 200 farmers in Magway region;
- Commitment was given by the Yangon Department of Agriculture to assign more human resources to Yangon Region mungbean farmers;
- Engaged in successful collective selling and marketing by the Yangon Farmer Development Association (FDA) to a national collector Myint Myat Taw Win (MMTW) to the tune of 700 Metric Tonnes of high quality GAP mungbeans already in 2019;
Working together and focus on win-wins
It needs to be said that these farmers still face many challenges such as low access to quality seed, access to quality pesticides and fertilizer, and shortages of labour. The invitation from Ministry of Commerce for ICCO to come and show P4 progress builds on the insight that different parties have to work together. All presentations mentioned that collaboration between public and private needs to occur, and that farmers play a key role in developing value chains.
Essentially, the message from P4 project goes further. It amounts to this: farmers need to work together in order to fully reap the profits of a growing pulses export sector.This does not come at the cost of other players in the sector. In fact, if communication and the focus on win-win situations are present, benefits can be shared throughout the whole chain. Only by working together can farmers achieve the combination of elements that led the P4 farmers to get higher incomes: by buying inputs together, applying their skills (GAP) and collective marketing.
By the end of the Forum, farmers as well as local buyers were interested to hear more. Hopefully they come to visit the P4 project areas in the near future to see for themselves!
The objective of the P4 project is to increase the incomes 10,000 smallholder mungbean farmers, of which 20% are landless female farm labourers, in four townships in Yangon and Magway. The P4 project is a Public Private Partnership and jointly implemented by ICCO South East Asia, the Myanmar NGO Network Activities Group (NAG) and our private sector partner East West Seed (EWS). Each partner brings the added value of their knowledge, expertise and experience to the project team. The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), under the DaNa Facility.