Organic agriculture initiatives in Myanmar

February 24, 2018

In Myanmar, I visited several projects linked to organic agriculture. I was glad to see that there are many initiatives on this topic and people are really engaged in promoting it across the country.

I believe Myanmar is in a very good position to avoid some of the mistakes that other countries in South-East Asia have done. I would love to see a strong commitment from the private and public sector in organic agriculture. This only can be achieved through education and the creation of a strong community of farmers.

In January 2018 I visited the guys from Golden Ground and Future Organic Farm.

Two initiatives that strive to encourage conventional farmers to switch from conventional practices to organic ones and to spread organic agriculture (techniques and understanding) across Myanmar.

I had a chance to visit both projects and spend some time with them.

Golden Ground

With the guys from Golden Ground I helped to plant onions, potatoes, garlic… and I was also involved in making Bokashi compost with my mentor Hpone. I also suggested producing their own EM (Effective microorganisms) with 3 types of bacteria from milk, yeast, and manure. So we bought all the ingredients and we did it!

(My mentor, Hpone, and myself in the Bokashi compost area)

Golden Ground is doing an excellent job in training farmers in the region close to Aung Ban, Myanmar. When I visited the project, they were building a plant that will be devoted to washing ginger as it’s one of the most important crops cultivated by the farmers in that region.

(Sai Phyo Lwin, Managing Director at SPSH associates, checks the quality of the ginger with a farmer in a field close to Golden Ground headquarters. Sai Phyo has designed a business model for Golden Ground and he’s optimistic about the future of organic farming in Myanmar)

Future Organic Farm

Close to the beautiful area of Inle Lake I met Aung Moe Hein who is running a project called Future Organic Farm. It’s small farm where Aung, Khin Myat Noe, and Aye Aye Aung carry out tests and research studies that are shared with farmers later on.

(View of the Future Organic Farm at Inle Lake)

Aung is always on the road. He travels across Myanmar delivering training in organic agriculture and he also explains the risks of conventional practices (chemicals use, soil destruction, loss of biodiversity,  pollution…). His job and commitment are remarkable.

We exchanged ideas and I really enjoyed our discussions.

At the bottom of this post, you can find some “recipes” for pest control in organic farming that Aung is using quite often with very good results.

Links to both projects in Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/towardorganicmyanmar/

https://www.facebook.com/goldengroundmyanmar/

Natural pest control recipe

Ingredients:

Garlic – 0.5kg

Chili – 0.25kg

Ginger – 0.25kg

Neem (core of the fruits) – 650 cc

Tobacco – 650 cc

Cow urine – 6 litres

Basic washing soap – 1 spoon (it would help to dissolve the neem and the garlic in water)

  1. First, we smash the garlic, chili, ginger, neem, and tobacco together with the soap.
  2. Leave it in a pot for 3 days to ferment covered with paper
  3. Add 57 litres of water and mix it
  4. Add the cow urine
  5. Mix it very well
  6. Add 1 spoon of washing soap per litre of filtered liquid before spraying on the plants

Tobacco pest control method

Ingredients:

Tobacco leaves – 0.5kg

Basic washing soap – 0.5kg

18 litres of water

  1. Chop the tobacco leaves and the soap into small pieces
  2. Boil the 18 litres of water in a big pot 80-100 degrees
  3. Add the tobacco leaves and the soap and mix it
  4. Leave it for 30 minutes and sweep from time to time
  5. Cold down the liquid
  6. Filter it

We can spray the plants with this but first, we need to reduce it with water (1/200)

Big caterpillars: Spray during 6 days (3 times each 2 days)

Small caterpillars: Every 5 days is enough

Fungus control

Ingredients:

Copper sulfate – 200gr

Lime – 250gr

Water – 15 litres

  • Mix the copper sulfate (200gr) with 7.5 litres of water
  • Mix the lime (250gr) with 7.5 litres of water

You can spray the plants within 24 hours.

Effective Microorganism mixture (EM)

There are 3 types of microbial life that come together to form the mixture.

  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Yeast
  • Phototrophic

Recipe for 20 litres container:

  • 2.5 l manure
  • 2.5 l wheat/rice bran
  • 2.5 l charcoal powder
  • 5 l sawdust
  • 0.2 / 0.5 l milk ( it can be increased)
  • 0.5 l molasses (it can be increased)
  • 20 gr yeast (it can be increased)
  • 1 l water (to be adjusted to reach 60% moisture)
  1. Mix the dry and wet materials separately and the mix them all together
  1. Allow the mixture to ferment in a container with a wide opening and a tight lid. To release pressure in the anaerobic conditions created in the container, make a hole (1cm diameter) in the lid and then squeeze a hose into it. The other end of the hose is placed in a bottle of water. You should see the air bubbles coming out of the water in the bottle.

 

  1. After 5 / 7 days, there are no more bubbles coming out the hose. That’s the sign that the mixture is ready. When you open it, it should smell like bread, beer and wine. If it went wrong it will smell really bad.

Use

You can use the mixture right away, but if you want to keep it and use it by bit you need first to sun dry it.

Spread the mixture into a thin layer to dry, turning it frequently. Once dried it can be stored and used for a whole year.

Mix it into your soil to create a good microorganism environment before planting

Add to your mulch basin every once in a while

Make a liquid formula by mixing in proportions of 1 part of mixture to 20 parts of water and 0.5 parts of molasses. After 24 hours it’s ready to use.

The liquid should be used within 2 weeks. You can spray it on your veggies and it will be absorbed through the leaves. Spray on a meadow and your animals can benefit from it as well.