NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar - President U Thein Sein, himself a farmer, and Vice President U Nyan Tun led the National Peasants' Day celebrations earlier this month. Farmers from different regions of Myanmar took part in activities organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MOAI).
The country's top executives, with MOAI Minister U Myint Hlaing and other government officials, recognized high-performing farmers and farmer groups, extraordinary farm products, and organizations—the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) included—that have supported the development of the country’s agriculture sector.
Madonna Casimero, IRRI representative to Myanmar, received a plaque of recognition from Vice President U Nyan Tun, who bestowed it on behalf of the Myanmar government. Since 1965, the Myanmar-IRRI partnership has enhanced the country's rice sector. Key achievements of this partnership include the release of 69 improved varieties bred to help farmers increase productivity despite difficult rice-growing conditions. These hardy varieties will become more and more crucial in adapting to the effects of climate change. Joint work with the private sector has resulted in the installation of more than 300 dryers across the country, benefiting about 35,000 farmers with better-quality grains that command higher market prices.
More than 440 agricultural scientists and extension workers from Myanmar received training at IRRI. A number of alumni now hold key positions in the country's agricultural research agencies.
Peasants’ Day also featured exhibits, including IRRI’s, which showcased climate change-ready rice varieties and other agricultural technologies that played a role in increasing farmer productivity. These varieties, tolerant of flood, drought, and salty soil, were among the products of IRRI's research partnership with the country’s Departments of Agriculture (DoA) and Agricultural Research (DAR), and international NGOs.
In May of this year, the Myanmar government is scheduled to launch its new rice sector development strategy, developed by MOAI with technical assistance from IRRI.