Transforming the Lives of Smallholder Vegetable Farmers for Income, Nutrition and Market Access in Rakhine
Context and Project Objective
In Rakhine state, the vast majority of the rural population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. However, profitability and productivity of most major crops remains low, with average yields less than half of their potential. In addition, many smallholder farmers in Rakhine struggle to access area markets to sell the vegetables they produce. With low yields and poor market linkages, farmers also find it difficult to invest in their farms to make them more productive and profitable.
This project is a follow-up to a successful 2018–2020 partnership between EWS-KT and Mercy Corps that equipped smallholder farmers with necessary skills and empowered them as effective market actors, while simultaneously stimulating the growth and development of a nascent vegetable market.
EWS-KT will now capitalise on these gains, further strengthening livelihoods and deepening market development. While core knowledge transfer and capacity-building activities will be substantially similar to those in the earlier project, EWS-KT will apply lessons learned from the initial project to better serve smallholder farmers. New approaches include updated security protocols; greater use of technology for virtual training; and more effective coordination and partnerships between farmers, microfinance institutions and other financial service providers, NGOs, and other groups.
The Transforming the Lives of Smallholder Vegetable Farmers in Rakhine project aims to directly increase the capacity of 10,360 smallholder farmers, particularly women and youth, with a steady focus on building resilient livelihoods and nutritional security through accelerated and inclusive market development. An additional 1,500 farmers will be reached through EWS-KT-trained agricultural-input dealers, who will provide advice as well as access to improved farm inputs.
The project plans to achieve its objectives through a peer learning approach, training key farmers to manage small technical demonstration farms. These demonstrations will be used as a hub to provide advice and training to neighbouring farmers on all subjects, from planting to harvesting. Field Days organised on demonstration farms will share technical horticultural knowledge as well as information on farm economics. This field-based knowledge transfer approach will be complemented by the use of digital tools such as SkillEd, GrowHow, and social media, along with skills training to increase farmers’ ability to access digital information.
To improve market connectivity, the project will link farmers to expanding market opportunities by working with local traders to understand vegetable quality requirements and develop traders’ relationships with farmers. Finally, the project leverages LIFT’s partnerships with agricultural finance providers such as VisionFund International (VFI). To address farmers’ need for capital, EWS-KT will support farmers’ access to financial services, including loans and digital finance from VFI and other financial service providers.
- 360 key farmers will double their yields, leading to an annual US$330 increase in net income per 1,000-square-metre plot.
- 2,500 intensively trained core group farmers will achieve a 50% increase in yield per 750-square-metre plot, increasing their annual net income by US$186.
- 7,500 trained farmers, who attended multiple training sessions and/or Field Days, will achieve a 35% increase in yield per 500-square-metre plot, leading to an annual US$99 increase in income per farmer.
- 1,500 farmers will indirectly benefit from improved access to farm inputs and advice through agro-input dealers, leading to a 25% increase in yield per 500-square-metre plot and generating an additional net income of US$41 per year.
Funding partner: United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT), Financial Inclusion and Agricultural Market Program
26 August 2022 – 31 December 2023
Myanmar: Rakhine state (Sittwe, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya)