MAUBIN TOWNSHIP, Myanmar –Farmers from rice-based villages have developed business plans for the sustainable use of postharvest equipment and generating income by providing postharvest services to other farmers.
Eleven farmers, representing three farmer groups from Maubin and Daik-U Townships, created practical business frameworks for threshing, drying, and storage technologies developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The plans were formed with assistance from the Department of Agriculture and IRRI's postharvest group.
Through the Learning Alliance (LA), IRRI will lend threshers, solar dryers, and hermetic storage technologies to the farmer groups that will provide postproduction-related services to other rice farmers. The LA is a platform supported by the project, Diversification and intensification of rice-based cropping systems in lower Myanmar (MyRice), and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. The farmer groups will then use the earnings to pay for the equipment through MyRice.
“If we can prove that the plans we developed are profitable for these farmers, we can use this model to help other smallholder farmers in other regions of Myanmar,” said Martin Gummert, IRRI’s postharvest expert. “MyRice has demonstrated effective postharvest technologies. This is an opportunity to sustain the use of technology that is already tested and found technically feasible. At the same time, this will help other farmers increase the value of their rice by providing access to the technologies.”
Using this approach, which is similar to leasing, IRRI can demonstrate the viability of the business model without the need for an upfront investment. Such an investment is an unrealistic requirement for farmers who have to take considerable risks when trying a new technology.
The farmer groups, which are also LA members, and Dr. Myo Aung Kyaw from the Pioneer Postharvest Development Group, discussed mechanisms to manage the equipment.This Group is one of IRRI’s key partners in Myanmar. They also formed groups to assign roles and responsibilities to ensure proper maintenance of the equipment as well as a practical business plan that provides services to potential clients.
The farmer groups will validate and fine tune the initial business model developed during the April 2016 harvesting season.
Through the LA, MyRice will provide the technical assistance and advice on managerial issues that might occur during the piloting.
“If we can fully develop a business model for at least for one technology, we can use the data as a benchmark to develop more business models for other postharvest technologies that will cater to other interested farmers or farmer groups in Myanmar,” Gummert said.