Knowledge Sharing and Improved Agriculture Practices Empowering Women Farmers in Shan State

“Farming has always been a big part of my life,” said Daw Mie Nge. “I used to help my father on our farm when I was a young girl and now I’m Vice-Chairwoman of the Crop Producer Group in my village.”

Daw Mie Nge, a 35-year-old farmer from Loi Mon Village, Southern Shan State, lives with her husband and two daughters on the family farm where they grow corn, rice, turmeric, garlic, and aromatic ginger. Since her election as Vice- Chairwoman of the Crop Producer Group, she has played a key role sharing information and organizing training for her group members, including nine female and six male farmers.

In Daw Mie Nge’s community, men are considered the head of the household, and as a result, agricultural training often prioritises men over women. This makes it difficult for women farmers to get the support they need to increase crop yields and improve their incomes. The establishment of Crop Producer Groups has started to change this situation.

In 2017, the ‘Improving Market Opportunities for Smallholder Farmers, Especially Women, in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone’ project, implemented by the Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development (MIID) with financial support from the UK aid funded DaNa Facility implemented by DAI Europe, began introducing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Shan State.

The project supports the application of GAP through Farmer Field Schools, Crop Producer Groups, and demonstration plots in Loi Mon, Htan Hsam and Thu Kha Loi Di villages in Shan State. As Vice-Chairwoman of the Crop Producer Group, Daw Mie Nge is responsible for making sure that members have the opportunity to attend Farmer Field School sessions and training. She is also treasurer for the project’s Collective Selling Centre, and has acted as signatory for collective selling agreements.

Her responsibilities do not end there: “I share market price information with other farmers as well as my knowledge of GAP; some farmers come and ask me about GAP methods and I can explain because I have received the practical training.”

Daw Mie Nge is far from the only female farmer to benefit from the project. Women have been encouraged to participate in project activities and with greater inclusion comes greater confidence. Women’s participation in Farmer Field Schools is increasing every month and currently totals 260 women, 55% of all trainees.

”Women have become more confident to share their experiences and knowledge with each other. This year, five of the eight demonstration plots will be led by women,” said Daw Mie Nge.

Since the project began in 2017, the 490 participating households have seen their incomes rise by an average of 67%, with increased yields and higher quality of ginger generating profits of up to 1,062,779 MMK (£569) per acre.