Exploring opportunities for collaboration with Myanmar
As the country’s horticulture sector begins to develop, WorldVeg and partners find new openings for growth
World Vegetable Center Director General Marco Wopereis traveled to Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar in early December 2016 for discussions with the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) to explore the potential for collaboration to evolve Myanmar’s vegetable sector.
More than 3000 km from north to south, Myanmar boasts a range of environmental conditions and needs sustainable vegetable systems adapted to drought, flood, salt, hot and cold extremes. Support is needed for the introduction and development of climate-smart, pest- and disease-resistant varieties that meet the country’s market preferences. Good agricultural practices, more efficient market linkages, and a regulatory framework to encourage the private sector to supply quality seed, IPM products, protected cultivation structures and grafted seedlings are the springboard for growth of the sector.
WorldVeg looks forward to collaborating with DAR to build upon existing projects to support Myamnar horticulture. Current WorldVeg initiatives in the country include work by Cucurbit Breeder Narinder Dhillon, who is screening tropical bitter gourd, tomato, and chili; capacity building for the Myanmar genebank led by Genebank Manager Svein Solberg; and a mungbean network and mechanization trial (as a field crop intercropped with rice) coordinated by Legume Breeder Ram Nair.
DAR Director General U Naing Kyi Win stated his unequivocal support for collaborating with WorldVeg to realize the potential of vegetables to become an economic driver in Myanmar.
A series of meetings were then held with DAR’s main research partner, Yezin Agricultural University, hosted by the Rector. In attendance: Professor Dr. Myo Kywe and Dr. Thanda Aung, who is contributing to a JIRCAS-funded vegetable mapping study around Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon; Professor Tin Tin Aye, Head of Academic Affairs and International Relationships; Dr. Khin Thida Myint, Head of Horticulture and Agricultural Biotechnology; and Dr. Myint Thuzar, Senior Lecturer and International Relations, Department of Plant Breeding. Clear areas for synergy through studentships and research for development projects were identified.
Marco and WorldVeg Regional Director Fenton Beed then traveled to Yangon and held fruitful discussions on future collaboration with research partners including Dr. Jongsoo Yangon, IRRI Myanmar Representative, and scaling partners from Plan International (Jenny Swe Swe Myint, Programme Manager, and May Thuka Soe, Nutrition Expert) and World Vision (Suresh Bartlett, National Director, and Gustavo Cavero, Economic Development Manager).
Both partners demonstrated their comparative advantage of being embedded in communities with tried and tested extension mechanisms and their desire to collaborate with WorldVeg for implementation of key technologies (seed, varieties, agronomy, postharvest and value chains). Systems targeted included homes, temples, community and school gardens, education and youth empowerment, value chain development and disaster risk mitigation through more resilient vegetable production. A scoping study of prevalent vegetable production systems in collaboration with World Vision was planned for 2017 on a transect from the dry Magway Region to the Ayeywaddy Region, where the lower delta suffers from salinity, the mid-delta from drought, and the upper delta from flooding.
Marco then proceeded to Thailand to visit WorldVeg East and South East Asia / Oceania at Kasetsart University’s (KU) Bangkhen campus, and also made a stop at the Center’s Research and Training Hub hosted at KU Kamphaeng Saen. Marco met all regional staff and was particularly impressed by the demonstration garden showcasing Thailand’s rich diversity of traditional vegetables, the 7-color garden, and vegetable production systems, as well as the high quality of field operations for the Center’s global cucurbit breeding program.
At KU’s Tropical Vegetable Research Center, Marco discussed research and development projects to engage students with Prof. Jingtair Siripanich, Assistant Prof. Julapark Chunwongse, Dr. Poon (leader of the regional USAID Horticulture Innovation Lab) and Plant Breeder Janejira Duangjit.
Story and photos contributed by Fenton Beed and Anna Maria Bahala