Myanmar’s Inle Lake is a beautiful heritage site with a unique eco-system. However it has suffered increasing environmental damage due to the overuse of chemical fertilisers and a huge growth in tourism. Farmers are in debt to chemical companies and lack opportunities for economically and ecologically sustainable livelihoods. Young people have few options – many leave as migrant workers to Thailand.
As part of the ‘We Love Inle Lake’ project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered in partnership with local NGO Kalyana Mitta Foundation, Ecologia provides eco-farming training for young people like Ma Kyin Htwe. She explains how it has proved a turning point, for herself and her community.
I am Ma Kyin Htwe, a Buddhist from Pwe Zin village. Previously I knew little about agriculture but this eco-farming training provided a lot of practical knowledge. The most interesting topic was how to manage and use available local natural resources. I now understand the way to maintain a healthy soil and environment is to make natural fertilisers, the raw materials for which I can get from my farm and neighbours. This was a turning point that changed many things in my views, thoughts and practices.
My family relies on farming rice and sugarcane. We used to use a lot of chemical fertilisers to produce more. I didn’t know about the impact of chemical products, but the training has shed a lot of light on how to live ecologically and be friendly with Mother Earth. It has dramatically changed my knowledge, attitude and practice regarding farming. I feel I am physically and psychologically living in a new world.
In my village, people assume that using chemicals for farming is good and profitable. Production is amazing but debt is a burden we have to bear every year. I have learnt several eco-farming skills, which I will share with others to sustain these methods from generation to generation. Thank you for this privilege to study eco-farming and gain new knowledge and skills!
Our second eco-farming course has now begun. Of the 26 participants, half are young women. All are eager to learn how to make positive changes to benefit both themselves and their communities.