Agroecological transition for landless farmers in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta
The Ayeyarwaddy (or Irrawaddy) Delta in Myanmar is characterized by rice monoculture and highly unequal access to land. According to various socioeconomic studies, only one-third of households own rice paddies. The remaining two-thirds sell their labor to rice farmers, farm tiny market garden plots, and raise a few farm animals. This group is being affected by the increasing mechanization of rice farms, which reduces their employment opportunities and forces them to join the rural exodus to Yangon and abroad. They are also turning to fishing in the Delta’s rivers, reducing the fish stocks that have already been polluted by the chemical products used in rice farming.
However, some members of the community have managed to develop sustainable activities that bring them a degree of food and economic self-sufficiency (aquaculture, diversified market gardening that targets the local market, off-season production during the monsoon). Despite these efforts, they lack support from the public authorities, who focus exclusively on rice farming in the region.
The project aims to create conditions that will enable the Delta’s landless farmers’ production systems to become more sustainable and more resilient.
First of all, the market garden and aquaculture production systems will be diversified and strengthened through various agroecological innovations (composting; biological pest control; market gardening on tables or in greenhouses; production of nutritious vegetables suited to a monsoon climate; small-scale aquaculture systems; production of fish fry; integrated aquaculture/market gardening; seed production). These innovations are the result of 10 years of research conducted by the GRET teams in the region. They will be tested throughout the year, compared with standard practices, and managed by the farmers, using simple techniques.
Exchange of good practices among farmers and peer training will be put in place. An advisory service will be set up and jointly run by farmers and technicians. Technical and organizational capacity building will be organized for technicians. Communication, information and educational tools will be developed to promote agroecological innovation on the basis of the outcomes achieved by the farmers’ groups.
In parallel, awareness raising initiatives among rural households will focus on the importance of a balanced diet, rich in local agroecological produce. The produce will also be promoted at the Bogale market.
Video introducing a beneficiary from the project: