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NEED for Change - farm school infrastructure development and better access for youth to quality education about sustainable agriculture in Myanmar

70% of the population of Myanmar live in rural areas. Agriculture is one of the main sectors of the economy, and yet infrastructure for vocational education in this area is very poor and access to education is limited. There is only one agricultural university in the country: Yezin Agricultural University.

In Myanmar, there is a need to strengthen education in the area of agriculture and ecology. Raising public awareness about sustainable agriculture and its impact on the country's economic development is key to increasing the demand and development of the market for ecological products and increasing the vocational activity of young farmers.

In this context, it is worth mentioning NEED Myanmar, which is the only organisation in Myanmar offering 10 months practical training in agriculture. The organisation, however, faces some difficulties: the training farm does not have adequate accommodation for students and visiting lecturers, and there is no greenhouse or seed bank.

Support for this organisation will allow it to develop its educational activities in the future.

NEED for Change - farm school infrastructure development and better access for youth to quality education about sustainable agriculture in Myanmar

The project will run from April to December 2016 at the Eco Village Farm School in Hmawbi and in Rangoon. The contractor is the World Culture Foundation in partnership with the Burmese NEED organisation. The main aim of the project is to improve the quality of farm training infrastructure and to enhance the capacity of the organisation as an educational institution for women and young people in sustainable agriculture. The projects objective is also to increase the competitiveness and innovativeness of activities carried out within cooperatives and producer groups in the agri-food sector.

The activities will involve the extension of the training farm infrastructure and the conduct of Training of Trainers (TOT) "Effective communication to support sustainable agriculture and cooperatives in the agri-food sector" for NEED Myanmar graduates. Workshops will provide the basis for further knowledge and skills transfer through the multiplication and organisation of local social campaigns that raise awareness among local farmers about alternative ways of farming, organised distribution of crops and grass-roots formation of cooperatives and producer groups.

The group of beneficiaries will primarily include students and graduates of training carried out by NEED Myanmar. Teachers from the Eco Village School, volunteers and farmers living in the neighbourhood will also benefit from the venture. Farmers will the direct beneficiaries of multiplication training conducted by TOT graduates.

NEED for Change - farm school infrastructure development and better access for youth to quality education about sustainable agriculture in Myanmar

The project ran from 1 April to 31 December 2016.

The project activities consisted in creating a seed bank, building a greenhouse, a teacher's home and renovation of the dormitory at the NEED Myanmar training farm in Hmawbi. In Rangoon, TOT workshops for 18 NEED Myanmar graduates were conducted, followed by multiplication workshops on sustainable agriculture and the creation of cooperatives for 240 farmers in the following states: Chin, Kakin, Shan, Rakhine, Sagain, Mon, Yangon, Kayak, Ayerawadyy, Kayin, Bago and Tanintharye. In addition, 5 social campaigns were carried out reaching 800 people in five states (Ayerawaddy, Kayah, Yangon, Rakhine, Sagain).

As a result, the quality of the training farm infrastructure improved and the access of young farmers in Myanmar to technical education and training increased. For example, by setting up a greenhouse, practical lessons in plant and vegetable cultivation is possible regardless of the season. NEED graduates improved their professional skills and carried out innovative social activities. The recipients of these activities had the opportunity to gain knowledge about sustainable agriculture.