This project researches cropping options to make rice-rice and rice-pulse cropping systems in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady delta (Ayeyarwady Region and Bago Region) more productive.
Rice is the most important agricultural commodity in Myanmar. Producing more rice and pulses in lower Myanmar through improved practices and reduced postharvest losses could alleviate poverty and malnutrition, and improve the livelihoods of the rural poor.
The project aims to improve farmer profitability through developing best practices for rice production, including post-harvest management, and innovative approaches to make rice-pulse cropping systems more productive. The project emphasises gender positive training and outreach, and ecologically sustainable production.
The ACIAR-Rice project has made strong progress, despite delays with the provision of funds to IRRI and the processing of LOAs with the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR). Our partner agencies have provided excellent support to the project, particularly in the two townships selected for the study-Maubin Township in the Ayeyarwady region and Daik Oo Township in the Bago region.
Highlights include the following:
1. Four control and four treatment sites were selected in each township-a set of two for rice-rice and two for rice-pulse. Needs assessments were conducted in these 16 villages.
2. A baseline household survey was conducted in Daik Oo Township in two control and two treatment villages for both rice-rice and rice-pulse cropping systems. In each of 8 villages, 25 households were surveyed (n = 200). The mean rice yield was 2.2 t/ha for rice-rice farmers for monsoon rice and 2.4 t/ha in summer rice. The mean rice yield was 3.1 t/ha for rice-pulse farmers; the pulse mean yield was 339 kg/ha.
3. For the summer rice cropping, best practices (three in Maubin Township and two in Daik Oo Township) were assessed in farmers’ fields. We benchmarked alternate wetting and drying (AWD), nutrient management, four different herbicides, and direct seeding using a drum seeder.
4. For the summer pulse cropping, we monitored the weeds present and measured their impact (one site in Maubin; one site in Daok Oo) in farmers’ fields, and assessed the yields of two new black gram varieties (one site in Daik Oo).
5. Extension staff from the regional, district, and township offices of DoA (25) and NGOs (3), key farmer leaders (8), rice millers (3), and scientists from DoA and DAR (5) were trained on postharvest management in Daik Oo over 3 days.
6. Scientific impacts:
(a) Handbook published on rodent biology and management in Myanma language.
(b) Key to weeds of rice agroecosystems translated into Myanma language.
(c) Reference manual, fact sheets, and PowerPoint presentations on postharvest technologies in Myanma language.
7. Communication and extension: We put a lot of effort into developing a high profile for the new ACIAR-Rice project. Activities follow:
(a) Planning meeting in Maubin with all project partners, December 2013.
(b) Briefing meeting with national partners, including the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation. A high-profile meeting was organized by IRRI together with DoA and held at the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MoAI) in Nay Pyi Taw on 31 January 2013.
(c) Meeting with the President of the Union of Myanmar, HE U Thein Sein, on 28 October 2012 in Nay Pyi Taw. Donna Casimero briefly discussed IRRI and its activities, emphasizing the current collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, and the projects funded by ACIAR and LIFT.
(d) Two other meetings with the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation.
(e) Meetings with the regional and district directors in both provinces and in the project townships.
(f) Four meetings with the directors general of DoA and DAR.
(g) Effective communication and spillover benefits between ACIAR and LIFT projects.
The ACIAR-Rice project has made strong progress, our partner agencies - the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) have provided excellent support to the project, particularly in the two townships selected for the study - Maubin Township in the Ayeyarwady region and Daik Oo Township in the Bago region. These were implemented despite delays with the processing of LOAs, and release of funds to these partner agencies.
Highlights include the following:
1. Three on-farm trials of agronomic options (seedbed management, fertilizer management, and grain loss assessment in grain stores) were implemented during the wet-season (WS) 2013 crop (June/July to Oct./Nov. 2013) in Maubin and Daik Oo townships involving 98 farmers. Four on-farm trials of agronomic options (fertilizer management for black gram, fertilizer management for summer rice, a direct-seeding trial combined with weed management and alternate wetting and drying (AWD), and grain loss assessment in grain stores) were implemented during the dry-season (DS) crop (Dec./Jan. 2013 to April/May 2014) in Daik Oo and Maubin townships involving 88 farmers. The field trials indicated that seed rates could be considerably reduced and yields improved with better ferilizer management.
2. Three participatory varietal selection (PVS) mother trials using 12 rice varieties with submergence and drought tolerance and high yield, and a farmer check variety, were implemented during the WS of 2013 involving six farmers. Based on the preference and sensory analysis, farmers’ most preferred varieties in flood-prone areas of Maubin are Sin Thwe Latt, Manaw Thu Ka, Sin Thu Ka, and BR11-Sub1. In Daik Oo, the preferred varieties are Sin Thwe Latt and HmamBi-2 in addition to their existing farmers’ varieties. Farmers’ most preferred varieties in rainfed rice areas of Maubin are IR57542-90-1-1-1-5, Manaw Thuka 2, Saltol Sin Thwe Latt, and RMNTK-UL-16. Another two PVS mother trials were implemented during the DS of 2013-14 in Maubin and Daik Oo townships involving four farmers. Data analysis is in progress. PVS mother trials using four varieties of black gram (12 farmers) were implemented in Maubin and Daik Oo townships, and another PVS mother trial with four varieties of green gram (four farmers) was implemented in Daik Oo Township only during the DS of 2013-14. In Maubin, the most prefered black gram variety selected by farmers based on its performance was Yezin 2. Farmers were excited to test new higher-yielding varieties; they have had no new germplasm for their pulses for more than three decades. No preference analysis was conducted in Daik Oo.
3. A postharvest loss assessment trial was conducted in Maubin comparing best-practice postharvest management from harvesting to milling according to IRRI recommendations with current farmers’ practice to assess physical and quality losses and the potential for loss reduction. Improved drying using a mechanical dryer for farmers’ groups (flatbed dryer) and a newly developed individual farmers’ dryer (Solar Bubble Dryer) in comparison with sun drying and work on simple drying business models started. Hermetic storage was demonstrated and farm-level trials are being set up. The local production of lightweight threshers started. Starting with a participatory impact pathway analysis in Maubin, a Learning Alliance began and initial meetings were held.
4. Postharvest losses to rodents in grain stores:
The 2013 summer trials generated the following findings:
(i) Mean loss of grain to rodents was 10.6% (1.16 se),
(ii) Total grain losses in 6 months were about 300 kg, and,
(iii) Fourteen baskets could feed five people for 4 months. Contamination (with rodents’ feces) was 0.1% (mean 8 feces in one cup of 480 mm3).
5. Training and capacity building:
There were 32 capacity-building events delivered via training courses, field days, and workshops. The number of participants was 1,152 (see Appendix 1 for details).
Training was conducted on pest management, participatory varietal selection, postharvest techologies, and different natural resource management technologies. Full details are provided in section 4. The highlights of training follow.
In-country training on “Ecological Management of Pests” was held for 22 people from DoA, DAR, YAU, NGOs, and the IRRI-Myanmar Office (IMO) over 7 days. Another in-country training on “Participatory Adaptive Research on High-Yielding and Stress-Tolerant Rice in Ayeyarwady Delta” was attended by 33 people from DOA, DAR, YAU, NGOs, and IMO over three days.
Participants from DOA (1), DAR (1), and IMO (1) attended a short training course held at IRRI headquarters on “Ecological management of rodents, weeds, insects, and birds in rice agro-ecosystems: biological and social dimensions” over 12 days. Two IRRI-MO staff attended training on “Postproduction to market” over 12 days.
6. Linkages to other ACIAR projects in Myanmar:
We have established active collaboration with the “Legume-based farming system” and the “socioeconomic” teams of the ACIAR project. The legume team has facilitated collaboration with the pulse group at DAR, which is also involved in the legume project. This group at DAR provided us with fertilizer recommendations and new pulse varieties for farmers to assess in Maubin and Daik Oo.
The socioeconomic component of our project in Maubin Township is linked to the activities of the socioeconomic team of the ACIAR program. We have collaborative activities that will assess the changes in different aspects of livelihoods of farmers. The socioeconomic team began studies in April 2014 in two of our four villages.
We have linked with the WorldFish team (My-Fish) to undertake a joint mission in February 2014 to the Ayeyarwady Delta to identify potential collaborative projects/activities.
7. Linkages to other IRRI projects in Myanmar (see section 8 for details):
Our ACIAR Rice project is working closely with a LIFT project managed by David Johnson at IRRI on “Reducing risks and improving livelihoods in the rice environments of Myanmar through better targeting of management options.” The LIFT project has provided detailed GIS maps of our two townships that have aided considerably in our site selection and planning of field activities. More recently, agricultural land-use maps have been developed and shared with us and the township staff of the DOA. These maps provide an excellent resource for our planning of demonstration sites and for planning for the subsequent diffusion of rice and pulse varieties and the associated best management practices.
As part of a national initiative, the LIFT and ACIAR projects combined with the DAR to produce 21.4 tons of Swarna-Sub1 seed (submergence-tolerant) for distribution to flood-affected areas in the Ayeyarwady and Bago regions. The seed was distributed through the DOA to 303 farmers across 26 townships in Ayeyarwady and to 87 farmers in 12 townships in Bago.
Swarna-Sub1 outyielded the farmers’ variety and, overall, was less affected by flooding. Swarna-Sub1 under 4 days of flooding yielded 4.45 t/ha and 3.01 t/ha with 12 days of flooding or a 0.18 t/ha decrease for each day of flooding between 4 and 12 days of flooding. The farmers’ variety yielded 3.97 t/ha at 4 days of flooding and 2.14 t/ha at 12 days of flooding, equivalent to a decline of 0.23 t/ha for each extra day of flooding between 4 and 12 days, or a yield decline of 50 kg/ha per day more than Swarna. The plant and grain type of Swarna-Sub1, in general, was appreciated by farmers.
8. Communication and extension:
(a) Printed in Myanma language:
(i) Handbook on Rodent field methods and management of pest species,
(ii) 1,000 copies of a poster on Rodent management strategies for different
rice field rats,
(iii) 2,000 copies of a Rice postharvest farmers’ manual,
(iv) 5,000 copies each of pamphlets on Rice harvesting dos and don’ts,
Seed storage, and Systematic drying of rice seed.
(b) Project planning with project partners in Daik Oo, November 2013.
(c) ACIAR program annual meeting in Ngwe Saung, November 2013.
(d) Communication audit in Maubin and Daik Oo, January 2013.
(e) Development of Myanmar project website for internal use among partners.
(f) Meetings with director general, deputy directors general, and division directors and staff of DOA and DAR, and the pro-rector and faculty of Yezin Agricultural University (YAU).
(g) Regular meetings (at least every three months) with the regional and district directors in both provinces and project townships.
The ACIAR-MyRice project has made strong progress. We received excellent support from our partner agencies, the Department of Agriculture (DoA) and Department of Agricultural Research (DAR). Highlights include the following:
1. There were 25 field trials with 811 farmer cooperators (see Appendix Table 1). The trials focused on new best management practices pre- and post-harvest, and testing locally adapted early-maturing and high-yielding rice and pulse varieties.
2. Natural resource management: In the 2014 wet season (WS), improved seedbed management and nutrient management were implemented in the rice-rice and rice-pulse systems. In both systems, partial cost-benefit analyses were positive.
3. In the same monsoon rice crop, drum seeding and integrated weed management in the rice-pulse system in Maubin Township indicated a gross margin benefit of US$150/ha compared with the farmers’ practice of transplanting. During the 2014-15 dry season (DS), row seeding of rice using a drum seeder indicated a gross margin benefit of US$100/ha.
4. Varietal trials: Participatory varietal selection (PVS) “mother” trials in the 2014 WS were implemented in two flood-prone areas and two favorable rainfed areas in Maubin and Daik Oo townships. Twelve high-yielding varieties of rice were tested against farmer varieties, with three replicates per site. In both the favorable and flooded-prone areas, farmers from Maubin selected 4 varieties, and those from Daik Oo selected 5 varieties.
5. About 240 kg of Sin Thwe Latt seed were distributed to farmers in Maubin in April 2014. The resulting farmer-managed trial of Sin Thwe Latt in WS 2014 provided a mean yield of 4.0 t/ha, compared with 3.4 t/ha for the farmer variety.
6. In the DS 2014-15 PVS trials of black gram, farmers preferred Yezin 2, Yezin 3, and Yezin 5 out of six varieties. Seven green gram varieties were tested and Yezin 11 and Yezin 14 were chosen. The PVS farmer-managed trials of black gram (Yezin 5) in Daik Oo provided a mean yield of 1.4 t/ha, compared with 1.3 t/ha for the farmer variety. Farmer-managed trials of Yezin 11 led to a mean yield of 1.09 t/ha compared with a mean yield of 0.93 t/ha for the farmer variety. Similar trials of green gram Yezin 14 led to a mean yield of 1.02 t/ha compared with a mean yield of 1.11 t/ha for the farmer variety.
7. In November 2014, 1,370 kg of seed of four DS rice varieties were distributed to farmers in Maubin and Daik Oo. In September 2014, 250 kg of seed of two green gram varieties and 704 kg of seed of two black gram varieites were distributed for the 2014-15 DS crop.
8. Pest monitoring: We have developed simple protocols for monitoring rice pests in the upper delta. In Maubin, the most common pest was bacterial blight in both favorable and stagnant areas. In favorable areas in Daik Oo, the most common pests were weeds and rodents. Stem borer occurred more often in flooded areas.
9. Post harvest loss assessment: In rice-pulse systems, physical losses of rice grain during threshing, drying, and storing were 1013%. Total grain losses caused by rodents during piling were 3%. Using best post harvest management practices, threshing immediatley after harvesting, systemetic drying (sun-dry/using a flat-bed dryer), and systematic storing, led to a 1316% loss reduction. Low milling recovery and head rice recovery values can be attributed to field stacking. Through the Learning Alliance, it was demonstrated that farmers can receive a higher price by selling quality grains.
10. Rodent losses in stores: In 2014, the mean loss of grain in storage to rodents was 1.22%. Total grain loss in 6 months was about 34 kg (could feed two people for 1 month). Mean contamination with rodents’ feces was 5 feces in one cup of 480 mm3.
11. Capacity building: From May 2014 to May 2015, 55 training events, workshops, and farmers’ field days were attended by 1,315 farmers (1,089 males and 226 females) and 475 partners (160 males and 315 females) from the Department of Agriculture (DoA), Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), Yezin Agricultural University (YAU), and private institutions (see Appendix Table 2A).
12. MyRice provided research thesis support for 17 MSc students from DoA and DAR. All are enrolled at Yezin Agricultural University (see Appendix Table 22).
13. Cross-project collaboration: MyRice established active collaboration with the Legume (MyPulse), Fisheries (MyFish), and Livelihood (MyLife) projects: (a) Improved nutrient management system in rice-pulse cropping system, (b) Varietal trials for black gram and green gram, (c) Rice-fish farming, (d) Learning Alliance meeting, (e) Survey on women’s empowerment, (f) co-supervised and funded MSc students from the Socioeconomics Department, YAU (MyLife).
14. The MyRice project actively collaborated with other IRRI projects in Myanmar, with joint in-country training activities, seed multiplication, and a gender study. Engagement with the private sector was facilitated through the Learning Alliance.
15. We met twice with the director general, deputy directors general, division directors, and staff of DoA and DAR, and the pro-rector and faculty of YAU. We had regular meetings (at least every 3 months) with the regional and district directors in both provinces and in project townships.
16. Gender: In 2014, we conducted focus group discussions in Maubin that assessed aspects of women’s empowerment.