Daw Win May, a 32-year old farmer in the Dry Zone of Myanmar, has been running her family’s farm for the past five years. Located in the Kyauk Kan village of Myingyan Township, her family primarily raises groundnuts, using a traditional monocropping system.

 Groundnuts, a family of leguminous plants whose best known member is the peanut, are grown on about 0.7 million ha in Myanmar, and are important as an edible oil and food crop in the country. Thousands of smallholder farmers in Myanmar grow groundnuts for household food and as a cash crop.

As a female farmer, May is not alone; FAO estimates that women grow half of the food in Asia.

 

 

“I was so lost and even thinking of giving up farming because I did not know how to do better and enhance my income,” said May.

The challenge for May is that the Dry Zone is one of the most climate sensitive and natural resource poor regions in Myanmar. 

The Zone covers approximately 54,390km2, representing about 10% of the country’s total land area.

The population of 18 million constitute 34% of the country’s total population, making it the country’s third most densely populated region.

Across the Dry Zone, water is scarce, vegetation cover is thin, and soils are degraded due to severe erosion.

 

FINDING FARMING

As temperatures rise, climate change is causing increased drought and water scarcity throughout Myanmar.

The Zone is characterised by low annual rainfall (508–1,016 mm) with high variability and uneven distribution. The undulating land, composed mainly of sandy loam with low fertility, suffers severe erosion because of the Zone’s erratic rainfall, strong winds, and high temperatures.

Observable increases in extreme high temperatures and increases in rainfall variability, has led to conditions of growing food insecurity and severe environmental degradation.

In response, and with financial support from the Adaptation Fund, UNDP, together with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation is helping communities in the Dry Zone of Myanmar cope with the impacts of climate change. The project, Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar, is promoting community-based natural resource management and climate action to reduce the vulnerability of local farmers.

 

 

Upper part of the canal after renovation 

 

MORE WATER + NURTURED SOIL
= FERTILE GROUND

In specific, the project has rehabilitated/reforested approximately 8,062 ha of degraded land and provided small-scale water infrastructure, including 70 water pumping systems, 12 deep tube wells, 20 shallow tube wells, 56 communal water tanks for rainwater harvesting.

Additionally, 136 communal water ponds were rehabilitated, and enhanced soil and water conservation techniques were demonstrated and are now being used on over 1,600 ha of land. 

Dramatically enhancing water availability during the dry periods means that farmers are now able to continue farming in areas that were otherwise left fallow.

 

“I am so happy now - because I can harvest two more crops from the same plot of land. If one crop fails, I can still harvest the other two.” Daw Win May says, as she proudly displays the grains from last season’s harvest.

While most of her harvest already sold, she was able to share some high-quality seeds with her fellow farmers in the village, as well as preserve stocks for the coming season.

 

DIVERSIFYING RISK

These efforts have facilitated communal control of sustainably managed natural resource areas, and improved livelihoods of the poor through much-needed access to income earning opportunities, among other benefits.

The income of landless and marginal households has significantly increased through support received from the project, including the introduction of drought-resistant crop varieties and diversified farming practices, as well as the provision of drought-tolerant livestock species and associated animal husbandry practices.

Overall, 31,085 households have benefitted from interventions related to climate-resilient agriculture practices and 6,747 households have benefitted from interventions related to climate-resilient livestock production practices.

 

 

 

"The project provided fruit tree seedlings, such as papaya, mango, sandalwood, guava, glyricidia, and lime, which have started flowering. I am going to sell them and get some additional income soon.”

- U Phoe Toke from Magyisu Village in Myingyan Township

WEATHER, CLIMATE, FARMERS

For farmers, adapting to climate change also means managing risks. Recognising this, the project has worked to improve how climate risk information is shared.

By strengthening local institutions on disaster risk planning, preparedness and response, and improving the use of digital technology to disseminate weather forecasts and early warning on extreme events, farmers in the Dry Zone are now able to receive timely, high quality weather forecasts. 

“Last week there was unusual rain in our area. I got alerted to this through the mobile application and immediately informed farmers in my village through the loudspeaker. The farmers were harvesting groundnut at the time and they took measures to save their groundnut crop.” - U Hla Toe, Village Administer of Shwe Ka Byu Village in Nyaung U Township

 

U Hla Toe, 
Village Administer of Shwe Ka Byu Village in Nyaung U Township

Demonstration of how to utilise hazard map information

 

 

 

A BRIGHTER FUTURE

 

Through these activities, the project is reducing the vulnerability of farmers in the Dry Zone to increasing drought and rainfall variability, as well as enhancing their capacity to plan for and respond to future climate change impacts on food security.

The project activities also benefit nearby townships by providing a platform for knowledge sharing and a basis for replication of successful interventions.

Neighbouring farmers have visited project sites to observe and learn from their climate-resilient farming practices, including soil and water conservation techniques.

The success of these project activities have led participants to design a future project which will endeavour to close gaps in market access and the agriculture value chain. Building on current work, the new project will support setting up micro enterprises in high demand agro-value chains and integrating renewable energy access and access to finance and credit, as well as facilitating business incubation support with private sector engagement.

Climate action and resilience-building efforts help Myanmar fulfil its commitments to the Paris Agreement, including executing on the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

These initiatives are also advancing Myanmar’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In particular, this project supported progress on achieving SDG 1 on povertySDG2 on zero hunger, SDG3 on good health and well-beingSDG6 on clean water and sanitationSDG 13 on climate action and SDG 15 on life on land among others.

For more information on the project, visit: Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar

For more information on UNDP work in Myanmar, visit: UNDP in Myanmar

 

Icon of SDG 01 Icon of SDG 02 Icon of SDG 03 Icon of SDG 06 Icon of SDG 13 Icon of SDG 15

 

 

Footnotes: Story by Andrea Egan, Karma Lodey Rapten / Photos: Andrea Egan/UNDP Myanmar and UNDP Myanmar

Sagaing, Mandalay and Magway Regions, Myanmar

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