Friday, August 18, 2017

IFC, agriculture department institute GAP in Inle Lake

The International Financial Corporation (IFC) is collaborating with the agriculture department to promote Good Agriculture Practices among farmers in the Inle Lake region.

Baskets with tomatoes, harvested on the Inle Lake, Shan State. As a major cash crop, tomato farming on the lake has triggered increased use of fertilisers and pesticides, having long-term impact on the water quality. Photo - ShutterstockBaskets with tomatoes, harvested on the Inle Lake, Shan State. As a major cash crop, tomato farming on the lake has triggered increased use of fertilisers and pesticides, having long-term impact on the water quality. Photo - Shutterstock

The IFC, a private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is working with Myanmar’s Department of Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) to implement the Agriculture Inputs Reform project, according to the IFC’s press release.

The project implementation is carried out with support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Japanese government.

The aim is to boost productivity, increase incomes and improve skills, quality and knowledge in the agricultural sector.

The estimated number of tourists in Inle Lake in 2016. The Myanmar TimesThe estimated number of tourists in Inle Lake in 2016. The Myanmar Times

At a one-day workshop on Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) organised by the IFC and MoALI in Nyuang Shwe, 300 participants — including 200 tomato farmers — discussed how to improve and reduce the use of chemicals on their floating farms on Inle Lake.

The event, a consequence of IFC’s efforts to support GAP and protect Inle Lake, was aimed at seeking solutions for improved sustainable agricultural practices and ensuring the lake continues to be a leading source of income for local residents.

As a major cash crop, tomato farming on the lake has triggered increased use of fertilisers and pesticides, having long-term impact on the water quality.

In addition to farming and fishing as key local industries, around 252,000 international tourists and 400,000 local tourists visited Inle Lake in 2016, thus generating revenues and employment opportunities for domestic residents.

The IFC argued that protecting the lake, therefore, is important for a sustainable growth in tourist

arrivals.

“Most farmers have poor knowledge about using pesticides in a safe and sustainable manner.

“They are known to mix chemicals with their bare hands. This not only triggers potential health risks, but also pollutes the water and soil, which in turn can contaminate the plants and fish,” said Dr Ye Tint Tun, director general of Department of Agriculture.

“Hence, it is imperative for farmers to learn how to use chemicals sustainably.

“MoALI is supporting the implementation of GAP for tomato farmers on Inle Lake so that farming, fishing and tourism continue to provide livelihoods to people of this area.”

The workshop shared experiences of farmers participating in the GAP program to reduce use of chemicals and improve production efficiency through preventive bio-products.

According to the press release, tomato buyers highlighted an increasing demand for high-quality products among consumers. This trend is particularly evident in major supermarkets, where consumers were ready to pay more for GAP quality products.

Furthermore, at the event, farmers were introduced to applications which could help them enhance financial and inputs management, as well as to financial products available to support agriculture production in the Nyaung Shwe area.

“Agriculture is an area where Myanmar has a significant comparative advantage with abundant land and water resources. It is vital for these resources to be well-managed to ensure long-term sustainability of this sector as well as to ensure the health and safety of the population,” Vikram Kumar, IFC country manager for Myanmar, said.

“We are pleased to support MoALI’s efforts to institute GAP in the Inle Lake area and to support the ministry at the national level to improve the regulatory environment, standards and use of agriculture inputs for other crops, such as rice and sesame seeds,” he added.