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Sandar Mon is from Mon State in Myanmar. She is a young community development practitioner who graduated from NEED-Burma in 2013. Her project will focus on agro-foresty, human rights training, sustainable livelihoods, and organic agriculture.
Goal: To help farmers become financially sustainable
Objective: to reduce chemical fertilizer use and promote organic agriculture
In Mon State, all farmers’ livelihood are rice planting and rubber planting which use chemical fertilizer and chemical pesticides to produce more. Their input and output are not balance because the cost of chemical fertilizer is greater than their income from produce. By using chemical fertilizers, they have unknowingly suffered for diseases caused by the chemicals and they have the added effect of increasing environmental problems. If we give trainings about the effect of chemical fertilizer, they can reduce their problems. Therefore, I will conduct agricultural and environmental trainings. The training will be four months for each group. My project duration is one years.
Mon State is in the lower west coast of Myanmar with a population of over 25 million people. Mawlamyine is the capital city. The majority of the population is Buddhist with a much smaller Christian population. The economic situation relies mostly on farming at 40% with 50% of the economy lost to migration out of the state. Of the ten townships, I selected Mudon Township and Thanbuzayat Township because they are affected the most by chemical fertilizer use. One of the largest issues is how long rubber trees take to mature for their first harvest. Over six years of growing is required before harvesting rubber, and the property is used for nothing else during that time. Additionally, they use chemical fertilizers 12 times (two times a year) before the rubber can be harvest. After scraping the rubber plant for rubber sap, they have to use more and more chemical fertilizer to provide enough nutrition to the rubber plants. This contributes to the loss in profits do to expensive costs for fertilizer and its over use.
Like rubber planting, rice cultivation faces similar problems. In the past, Mon State was one of Myanmar’s largest producers of rice, but now the rate of production has decreased with a transition to more rubber trees. The farmers face the same issue with rice as they do with rubber; the profits from rice production are lower than the cost of fertilizers and pesticides. Each year the farmers increase the use of chemical fertilizers to promote more production. They used a lot of chemical fertilizer which cause environmental problems such as water pollution, air pollution, water scarcity, etc. It also contributes to health problems such as skin disease, cancers, and repertory problems. Additionally, fertilizer use contributes to farmer debt.
Short-term outcomes Long-term outcomes
The soil will become healthy and the pH levels will improve. The farmers will be able to use their training to more effectively utilize the farm, its space, and resources. For the women, they can actively participate in society.
The training will encourage their interest in their farms. They will achieve successful farms by using organic fertilizer and healthy soils thus reducing the dependence on chemical fertilizers. Their income and expenses will become more balanced as they adjust to organic farming. They will not give up on their farms therefore trafficking problem will be reduced. As for the youth, they will not be victims of drug use and profit will come from organic farming instead of selling drugs. Additionally, they can return to the school and complete their education.
Anticipated results (numbers helped/ amount of fertilizer use reduction)
Organic foods will be produced on the farms and this will increase income because organic food will be sold at a slightly higher price. It is anticipated that this structure will work because the villagers already purchase foods based on quality. We anticipate 45 farmers and youth to participate in the training each year. These participants are village or local organization representatives. Following the training, they will return to their villages and pass along the knowledge. They will be able to conduct organic agriculture, make natural pesticides, pest control, and EM. Small annual numbers is important to this project because it allows us to target multiple groups and indirectly reach more people. After the project, farmers will continue to use organic agriculture techniques and the practice will encourage chemical fertilizer reduction. Additionally, the farmers will save money because they will not need to purchase chemical fertilizers.