By Ruth Tshin, Volunteer ECHO Asia Consultant
Ruth and ECHO Asia intern, Kimberly Duncan, are currently in Yangon, Myanmar conducting a workshop on seed saving.
|Burmese farmers are heavily dependent on chemicals to meet market demands and there is little knowledge of chemical-free food production.|
Celebrating 200 years in 2013, Myanmar Baptist Convention (MBC) has over 2 million members from 18 different language groups throughout the country. The Christian Social Service and Development Department (CSSDD) functions like a development organization for its members, many of whom are farmers struggling to maintain their livelihoods amidst high chemical and hybrid seed costs. As Burma continues to open up to the global market and respond to pressure from China, MBC's farmers need innovative methods to supplement their income.
In their efforts to continue developing their staff and members' understanding of sustainable farming practices, MBC graciously invited ECHO Asia to teach seed saving techniques at their headquarters in Yangon this week. Today, we (Ruth Tshin and Kimberly Duncan) started off a 3 day training session listening to the challenges experienced in their communities. 16 men and 2 women from 5 areas of Myanmar, representing Pwo Karen, Sgaw Karen, Asho Chin, Southern Shan and Mon conventions, were in attendance. We shared our successes producing open-pollinated seeds using natural methods, as well as lessons learned from our failures from the past 3 years. Between bouts of power outages, we had lively conversation about local vegetables and seed prices, and ended the first day by distributing seeds from our seedbank.
|One of the Karen CSSDD staff talks about challenges in his area|
|Talking about plants after we gave out our seeds|