Urban Regional Extension Specialist Robert Spencer just returned from his second trip to Myanmar in Southeast Asia. Spencer is a volunteer with the Farmer-to-Farmer program in Myanmar that is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Winrock International. Targeting small-scale livestock farmers, he educated audiences on sustainable best management practices that will ensure efficient production and increase on-farm revenue.
Agriculture is the primary industry in Myanmar with the majority of the population living in rural areas. The good news is that there is a strong domestic demand for agricultural products and strong export opportunities to surrounding countries. Much of the country’s climate is semi-arid with an annual rainy season, making it challenging for consistent agricultural production. While there are some larger commercial and government supported farms, most of the farms are small-scale and limited-resource farmers are eager to produce, to improve practices and to seek out markets that will pay better prices for their products.
Spencer was able to reach approximately 156 producers during farm visits and workshops in the cities of Yenangyuaung, Taw Twin and Mandalay, and had the potential of reaching more than 22 million viewers during a Sky Net TV broadcast on making soap using goat milk. In addition, educational training covered such topics as upgrading small ruminant operations and animal husbandry in the areas of nutrition, parasite control, parturition and kid care, and rotational grazing.
Spencer plans to return to Myanmar in the spring of 2015 and is looking forward to future trips to Bangladesh and Nepal to continue his work with USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program.