Success stories from communities surrounding Mann Field will tell you how we are impacting their lives and how we are creating value together through our co-existence for local small holder farmers and women’s groups.

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success-story

Empowering Community Smallholders for Sustainable Agriculture

There are two major issues for many smallholder farmers in Mann Field on which MPRL E&P’s agricultural initiatives have been focusing : they are struggling with access and availability of quality seeds whilst their traditional practice of broadcasting seeds or random transplanting prove both costly and low-yield, like some of their counterparts in other areas of the country in which agriculture is the backbone of the economy.

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Empowering Community Smallholders for Sustainable Agriculture

There are two major issues for many smallholder farmers in Mann Field on which MPRL E&P’s agricultural initiatives have been focusing : they are struggling with access and availability of quality seeds whilst their traditional practice of broadcasting seeds or random transplanting prove both costly and low-yield, like some of their counterparts in other areas of the country in which agriculture is the backbone of the economy.

Quality seeds key to successful crop production

The low-quality seed problem is suggested to be rooted in improper storage methods which leads to damage and losses, with most of the smallholders in Mann Field barely able to save enough seeds from one harvest to another growing season. As a result, when growing season comes, they have to buy seeds at double the price, which increases their input cost.

MPRL E&P’s Livelihood Development Program introduced in the fiscal year 2018-2019 the idea of seed loaning with a 25% interest per seed bag for chickpeas and 1 tin (16 Pyi) for every 3 kg of sunflower seeds loaned to these farmers. This allows them to have access to quality seeds at zero cost while MPRL E&P can extend the access as the amount of quality seeds multiplies after each harvest.

With the technical support of the Department of Agriculture (Minbu), the seed loaning initiative now covers Chickpea and Sunflower growers from all the 14 surrounding communities. Based on the success rate, a seed bank that is run by farmers themselves will be set up to grow seed collection and increase varieties in coming months.

Horticulture for Vegetable Growers

Daw San May, a 61-year-old vegetable farmer from Kyar Kan Village, explained, “I used the traditional method of broadcast seeding to grow tomatoes. As a result, the plants grew unevenly in my pocket of land, and there were other challenges such as high labor costs associated with clearing weeds, labor scarcity, and heavy rainfall.”

Her experience was echoed by U Aung San Myint, a farmer from Man Gyo Village, who said he applied the same method to grow tomatoes and the cost to clear weeds from the plantation was as much as 6 lakhs, no meager amount.

Both of these farmers attended a MPRL E&P-supported two-day Horticulture training in July 2019 by a certified technician from the East-West Seed, an award-winning organization serving farmers. While some of you may be familiar what horticulture is, this hands-on training on horticulture for a group of 41 attending smallholders underscored modern science-based techniques on growing high-value tomatoes and chilies with optimized yields and sustainability of local ecosystems.

Putting their newly-acquired knowledge to use, both have seen the use of plastic mulch or plasticulture leads to a reduction in input cost as well as effects of changes in temperature, rainfall and wind to the crops. Daw San May said, “The black color of the planting beds absorbs perspirations, and therefore, the irrigation time is reduced from once in a week to once in ten days. Even when it rains, the planting beds would not collapse, and the roots do not become rotten.”

U Aung San Myint added, “While the cost to set up the plastic mulch is just over MMK 60,000, the cost to clear weeds from the plantation with herbicides has been reduced to one tenth.” He even has observed that weeds no longer grow in the area where the plastic mulch has been set down, and as the method likens organic farming, he believes the vegetables produced will be good for human health.

Daw San May said currently her return on investment is between 7 lakhs to 10 lakhs after capitalizing 3 lakhs while U Aung Say Myint disclosed the total expenditures for the farm was 7 lakhs and he has already earned over 30 lakhs in return. Both are hopeful—Daw San May will grow a full acre of tomatoes next season and U Aung Say Myint expects another 5 lakhs in coming month.

Unlocking the Potential of Smallholders

Studies indicate there are many diverse environmental impacts from unsustainable agricultural practices, including deforestation, soil degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that one of the paths toward sustainable food and nutrition security for all human beings on earth is through the local production systems in which smallholder farmers play an important role through their subsistence farming. No doubt by championing these local farmers with eco-friendly agricultural techniques, lasting change towards their livelihoods and the environment will come into being.

success-story

Soap is Hope

For many people, soap is a very basic hygienic product used to clean dishes, to wash hands and clothes, and to bathe on a daily basis. But what does it mean to the people who produce it? Let’s find out about the three soap-making entrepreneurs in Mann Field, who are all women!

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Soap is Hope

For many people, soap is a very basic hygienic product used to clean dishes, to wash hands and clothes, and to bathe on a daily basis. But what does it mean to the people who produce it? Let’s find out about the three soap-making entrepreneurs in Mann Field, who are all women!

soap is hope
Daw Myint Myint Khaing lives in Auk Kyaung Village in Mann Field. While her husband works a mason, she stays at home. In addition to doing household chores, she is generating an income through her home business of making soaps called “Yoon Family”. She attended both the first soap-making training as well as the advanced training on natural, cold process soap-making in Pyay. All the trainings have been part of MPRL E&P’s CSR initiatives in order to promote livelihood opportunities and women-led SMEs development in Mann Field.

“After the advanced training in Pyay, we three trainees tried to make new products using our new skills. We can buy ingredients from Magway but quality is a bit substandard from those ordered from Yangon. So later we will discuss how to secure quality ingredients together. As we started selling all-natural, cold process soap bars, we have received good customer feedback. People said after using the soap bars, their faces became smooth. So there have been more orders coming in.”

The soap-maker continued, “As we work as a group, we do bookkeeping carefully. Now we share the upfront costs, and use one of our houses as a workstation. We produce five types of soap bars named “May Nant Thar”, and a soap bar can cost between MMK 2,500 and 3,000.” Daw Myint Myint Khaing expressed her satisfaction with the progress she has made so far with her soap making business. “As I am now having my own income, I do not have to worry about fulfilling my household needs. In the future, I will focus both on my own business and the group business. We have identified new shops where our products will be displayed, and we also are making home deliveries. So we expect our customer base will grow over time.”

Daw Khin Thuzar is a 36-year-old soap-maker residing in the MOGE Mann Kyoe Barrack (MOGE Staff Quarter), as her husband is an MOGE Staff. She attended the first soap-making training provided by MPRL E&P in November 2017. After the training, she started to produce shampoo and soap under the product name “Thuzar”. She purchases the ingredients for her products from Minbu. She is happy they can be locally sourced although she notes bottles for liquid soap can sometimes be difficult to procure as the way she would want. With regard to the sales and income of her products, she said, “My shampoos sell better, and I think I am good at it. The product sells very well in Yangon, Mann Field, Minbu and other villages. In Magway, you can get one at the Kaung Mon Shopping Centre. I have loyal customers who buy my products a lot.”

Daw Khin Thuzar explained how her business contributes to her family and her family’s support in return. “I now can support my family as I have started generating an income. I set aside two to three days every month to produce the products. My family also gives a hand. They are happy about my business. Sometimes I ask my friends to lend a hand so they can make some money in return. Now we do not have to buy soap as we can use our own products. It’s fun!”

Then she joined the intensive professional soap-making training in Pyay in August this year. She said she has gained both new knowledge and new business contacts through the training in order to help her business grow in the future.

soap is hope

soap is hope
Daw Ohnmar Than from Kwe Cha Village started producing detergent soaps called “Ohnmar Myint Moh” as a home business in addition to her agricultural work. She sells it mainly in her village, but she intends to extend it to nearby villages and at retailers by offering commissions.

“When I attended the professional soap-making training in Pyay, provided by Charcoal Natural Soap-Making, arranged by MPRL E&P’s CSR Program in Mann Field, together with Daw Khin Thuzar and Daw Myint Myint Khaing, I learned new techniques which are different from the first training. There are two types of soap-making techniques: hot process and cold process. The latter was what I learned during the advanced training, and it is less time-consuming to produce and sell. You can see the difference through the bathing experience, as well as their prices. We can also be more creative in the cold process soap making,” said Daw Ohnmar Than.

The 34-year-old is grateful to receive close assistance from MPRL E&P’s Vocational Training Support Program, which includes organizing trainings, procuring raw materials, and linking market opportunities. “We are very happy to receive such support from MPRL E&P. Initially we were worried that the prices of our products were a little bit higher than local products. However, we have managed it.” In the future, she intends to discuss securing quality supplies for products with her group. As the income from her home business enables her to support her family, she hopes to do it for the long-term, hopes to improve the quality of her products.

success-story

The Story of a 4-Women’s Sewing Cooperative in Mann Field

One of the strategic objectives of the CSR program of MPRL E&P is to open doors for economic empowerment for the women in the communities in Mann Field through the provision of a series of vocational skills trainings starting from the fiscal year 2017-2018 onwards.

Meet the four women to learn more about their backgrounds, how they operate the cooperative and what impact it has on their lives.

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The Story of a 4-Women’s Sewing Cooperative in Mann Field

One of the strategic objectives of the CSR program of MPRL E&P is to open doors for economic empowerment for the women in the communities in Mann Field through the provision of a series of vocational skills trainings starting from the fiscal year 2017-2018 onwards.

Meet the four women to learn more about their backgrounds, how they operate the cooperative and what impact it has on their lives.

Ma Kyi Kyi Myaing is a 27-year-old resident of Kyar Kan Village, one of the surrounding communities in Mann Field. She is currently serving as a Community Volunteer for the implementation of MPRL E&P’s CSR programs in Kyar Kan Village. While she recruited other women from her village who were interested in joining the vocational training on cotton bag making skills, she herself took part in the lessons. Then people said they liked the bags she made and she started to receive orders which she fulfills by participating in this sewing group.

Ma Kyi Kyi Myaing said, “I am inspired to expand our business by marketing our products at the local shops such school uniform shops. I aim to work together with the Nammadar Women’s Cooperative Sewing Group for the long term while performing my responsibilities as a Community Volunteer.”

She is hoping to save some of her earnings to invest in the future education of her son who has started attending the local school.

sewing

sewing
Ma Kyu Kyu Win, another 47-year-old Kyar Kan resident, spends her time sewing bags at the women’s cooperative Nammadar, the very first of its kind in the communities. On a daily basis, she would sit at the sewing machine and run the material through her fingers and under the pointed needle of the machine. The results are colourful bags ready and up for grabs!

With her basic knowledge of sewing, Ma Kyu Kyu Win was able to secure her seat at the cotton bag making vocational training provided by MPRL E&P. She can now sew both cotton bags and traditional dresses. Therefore, she decided to concentrate on this business which enables her to earn a stable income.

Sitting in the middle of the sewing room which is a Kaleidoscope of colourful textiles, samples, threads and other necessary sewing items, Ma Kyu Kyu Win reflected, “The success of our cooperative depends on our organizational spirit. We have created rules since our establishment and we allocate profit among ourselves according to these rules. Personally, I am able to sew different patterns of bags. I now have many new customers and business contacts too. What I would like to request from MPRL E&P is to provide more training on designs. This will assist us tremendously in the future for the creation and marketing of our products.”


Ma San San Htay is a 25-year-old member of the cooperative from Lay Eain Tan Village. She explained that the cooperative would sell their own bags as well as customized products upon requests from customers. This allows them to be flexible with their customers. She is also thinking of concentrating on this bag making business as she has realized its potential to grow with the addition of design concepts and through the endorsement of her growing customer base.

With regard to the support provided by the CSR programs, she said, “The CSR team has conducted many follow-up activities which are very supportive for us. They have this Vocational Training Support Program which enables us to secure material supplies, to further enhance our business skills, and to seize networking opportunities to market our products from the local level to the regional level. For our cooperative, we need to work together and aim to be an enduring success.”

sewing

sewing
Another beneficiary of the cotton bag making vocational training is Ma Wai Wai Lwin from Kyee Bin Kan Village. Although she was busy with her farming business, the 40-year-old decided to polish her basic sewing skills by attending the cotton bag making vocational training in late 2018.

It has proved to be a good investment because with her enhanced skills she is able to produce better products which ensure customer satisfaction and attract more customers. She said satisfactorily, “Our cotton bags are becoming more and more popular with the customers because they are affordable in terms of price and sustainable in terms of the environment.”

With regard to her future plans of expanding the business, she hopes to receive additional support from the CSR program of MPRL E&P in Mann Field that will strengthen her business knowledge and pattern skills to master the textile arts.

sewing
sewing