|Farmer Field Schools Early Success in Myanmar|
Pein Hne Kone village is located in Taung Ka Lay village tract, Myaungmya Township, Ayeyarwady region. Most of the Ayeyarwady region offers favorable conditions for rice cultivation. In fact, the country’s rice production mainly depends on the Ayeyarwady region, referred to as the country’s bread basket. Villagers from Pein Hne Kone used to live by farming but most are poor and their production does not cover for their food needs. In summer, most of the farmers cultivate with traditional methods, casting seed over wet fields. They use low quality local grain for seed and their seeding rate is very high, using up to 4 to 5 baskets per acre for summer rice cultivation. They know nothing about seed multiplication technology.
In December 2010, the AVSI Foundation in Myanmar began implementation of a seed multiplication program with a Farmer Field School (FFS) approach in this village within the framework of the “Improvement of Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture Development” project, in collaboration with Myanmar Agriculture Service (MAS) and Ayeyarwady Homeland CBO. The FFS brings together 25 farmers for practical demonstrations of seed multiplication technologies. The Project provided registered rice seed, fertilizer and twice monthly training sessions to every participant.
U Win Hlaing, one of the demonstration plot farmers, has a wife and daughter. He has 8.33 acres of cultivated land and their family’s income mainly depends on rice cultivation. The facilitators from AVSI and MAS shared new methods of nursery preparation, selection of quality seed, cultural practices, pest and disease control on rice, fertilizer application methods, weed management, water management, harvesting methods and other seed multiplication techniques.
At the beginning, most of the FFS participant farmers weren’t willing to bet on the introduced technologies. Despite the general skepticism, U Win Hlaing adopted these techniques in his demonstration plot. In the last three to four cultivation seasons, he had faced pest and disease infection in this plot every season resulting in a very low yield, not more than 60 baskets per acre and some years there was no harvest at all.
After transplanting, he spent most of his time on his demo plot because he began to see the big difference between using local seed and traditional methods and using quality seed and systematic practices.
At the end of the harvest period, this demo plot yield was 117 baskets per acre according to yield calculation with Y method from a sample plot. U Win Hlaing actually got 85 baskets of quality seed rice from his 0.75ac demo plot. He was very happy and proud of his plot yield. He also understood about the difference between grain and seed, horticulture net nursery technique, how to achieve a low seeding rate, losses of fertilization and seed multiplication techniques. He was very pleased with the pest and disease control method which was unknown before. Now he can sell his rice seed with higher price than other grains. Other farmers admired and emulated U Win Hling's performance.
After one cycle of the Farmer Field School in Pein Hne Kone village, not only the demo plot owner, U Win Hlaing, but all FFS participants and other farmers understand the potential gain of the farmer field school approach and accept the importance of the seed multiplication programme. The community’s vision of their future livelihood is much brighter and ambitious as a result.