Pulses production in Myanmar has high potential. Despite many market opportunities, many mungbean farmers remain poor.
The ‘Pulses, People, Planet and Profit’ (P4) project aims to improve the income of smallholder mungbean farmers, including landless female farm laborers. Since the project started in September 2017, the first results are promising.
Pulses and beans in Myanmar account for over 20% of the total cultivated area. Pulses production has high potential, as pulses fit well with rice-based cropping systems in the delta and diversified production systems in the dry zone of Myanmar.
Huge market opportunities
Myanmar is one of the world’s largest exporters of these commodities. For example, in 2015, 1.54 million metric tons of pulses and beans was exported - of which the largest amount was exported to India and China. However, there are huge market opportunities in Europe, Japan and other high-premium markets too, where mung bean sprouts are also eaten. Hence, farming and post-harvest practices contribute to a large extent to the taste, safety and quality.
Despite these market opportunities, many mungbean farmers remain poor due to low productivity and inconsistent quality of produce. Farmers also lack knowledge and skills on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Women laborers have limited access to resources, farm lands, capacity building, financing and capital to invest in other livelihood activities, as well as lack of decision-making power within their household and community.
Creating space for all stakeholders
The objective of P4 is to increase the income for 10,000 smallholder mungbean farmers, of which 20% are landless female farm laborers, in four townships in Yangon and Magway regions.The P4 project is jointly implemented by ICCO Myanmar, the Myanmar NGO Network Activities Group NAG and our private sector partner, the international company, East West Seed (EWS). The UK Department for International Development (DFID) funds the project under the DaNa Facility.
“The P4 project is the pioneer project for Myanmar. It is a unique market orientated project for creating a good market opportunity for all stakeholders based on long term solutions and sustainability based on PPP concepts”, says ICCO’s project manager Khin Zaw Tun. “In the mungbean industry, this Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach can create more space for all stakeholders to get their profits and sustain opportunities along the supply chain in the long term.”
The first results are promising. The Farmer Development Association at township level has been selected after organizing and forming the Farmer Development Committee at village level. Strengthening of these farmer groups is underway. According to Khin Zaw Tun, “the farmers, including women, understand the importance of being a member of a farmer group. They are more confident to communicate with government officials for their right, thanks to meetings and exchange trips. They are now convinced that collective efforts are crucial for them in the long run.”
“The right pesticides at the right time”
The farmers received GAP training while hands-on training on recordkeeping is ongoing. The inputs suppliers and exporters for the collective purchasing, marketing and selling were selected. Demo plots and Farmer Field Days are also ongoing in the project villages. In May, 50 seed multiplication farms will be established in Magway region to produce good quality seeds.
The first group of farmers who were selected and trained, so-called ‘key-farmers’, are optimistic about the project. Ye Naung, key-farmer from Dauntgyi Village in Thonegwa Township said, “establishing the demo plots in my farm gave me more understanding and technical knowhow to control the pests by using pesticides effectively. Moreover, I am confident to deal with others and my public speaking skills are improved through hosting visitors during Farmer Field Days in my field.”
Photo: Ye Naung
U Khin San, key-farmer from Swe Taw Kwin Village in Kayan Township is happy he was selected for the P4 project. “Because I was able to learn a lot from the field technical officer of East-West Seed company. The crops in my demo plot perform well in terms of pests and diseases infestation, because of the right pesticides at the right time. In addition, to some extent, I am now able to reduce the production cost per acre.”
Photo: U Khin San