Friday, 24 June 2016

Intervention study has improved chicken rearing and on-farm biosecurity in the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar

As part of an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Centre (ACIAR) animal health project in the Central Dry Zone (CDZ) of Myanmar, a year-long intervention study has improved chicken rearing and on-farm bio-security.

The study, which was completed in November 2015, included vaccinations against Newcastle disease administered in three-monthly intervals. Interviews with village chicken farmers were conducted in December 2015 to explore changes in their perceptions, beliefs and practices towards Newcastle disease and its prevention and to follow-up on the outcomes of the intervention study. (A similar survey was conducted before the commencement of the intervention study.)

The village chicken interventions were incorporated in a marionette play that was performed in the villages. The play was very well received by all poultry farmers and was recorded and broadcasted by a Myanmar television station.

Marionette play on improved village chicken rearing
At the beginning of 2016 the sale of starter feed and intervention material through village-based feed dealers commenced. In addition, a new training approach was introduced in the study villages, in which ‘model poultry farmers’ promote the village chicken interventions to fellow poultry farmers. Newcastle disease vaccinations are still continuing in three-monthly intervals in the study villages.

The study is part of the ACIAR project ‘Improving livelihoods of small-scale livestock producers in the Central Dry Zone through research on animal production and health in Myanmar’. In the CDZ, poor rural households could benefit greatly from improvements to animal productivity. The project is focusing on enhancing management, nutrition and health of small ruminants, indigenous cattle and village poultry. The project is one component of ACIAR’s program in Myanmar aimed at capturing the benefits of earlier projects and launching a new integrated approach to agricultural research. The project outcomes will include vital information on the country’s current livestock management, animal productivity and disease status. It will also contribute to a larger CDZ program on crops, livestock and water use. Collaborating organisations include: University of Melbourne, Australia; Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department, Myanmar; and University of Veterinary Science, Myanmar

Poultry feed dealer in Kyauk Aoe    
This particular project uses a participatory research approach (PRA) to explore management of livestock and to identify constrains to livestock health and production. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

Land degradation and desertification important focal points for ACIAR research

Today is World Day to Combat Desertification, a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels.

Desertification is the process of making or becoming a desert – a dry barren often sand-covered area of land, characteristically desolate, waterless and without vegetation. Desertification can also refer to the spread of existing deserts where large areas of once fertile and productive land are degraded to the point of ceasing farming. Increasing human pressures on the land can lead to desertification through such activities as over-cultivation, overgrazing, deforestation, and poor water management.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Land use evaluation in the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar

The Central Dry Zone (CDZ) of Myanmar is an area characterised by a short monsoon rainfall season followed by eight months of dry and low productivity soils, mostly hilly to gently undulating terrain with sandy soils and only a few areas of more productive clays in the valleys. The soils lack organic matter, are infertile and are generally acidic. This combined with low rainfall means that farming in the area is relatively unproductive and risky.

ACIAR has just started a new project on land use evaluation in the CDZ. It will start with a pilot area called Pyawbwe township, about a two hour drive north of Nay Pi Taw, the capital of Myanmar. The aim of the project is to better understand the variation and hence the constraints and opportunities of different soils and map these in detail. Then the project will develop land use planning guidelines with land management authorities and farmers and share those with government agencies and NGOs operating in the region.

Project team discussing soils with farmers. Photo: Dr Evan Christen, ACIAR

Friday, 3 June 2016

A new generation of products from forest plantations and agri-fibre residue

Researchers from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) are engaged in ACIAR forestry projects in Laos and Vietnam both of which are helping partner scientists and local wood processing industries to improve wood manufacturing processes and consider the development of innovative wood products. In doing so they build local scientific capacity and generate new markets for smallholders to sell their wood and other fibre products.

From left to right: Phouluang Chounlamounty (NUOL), Tien Manh Ha (VAFS), Rod Vella (DAF) and Hoan Nguyen Hai (Griffith University) present the first panel made from sorghum in Australia

Friday, 27 May 2016

Rice-based cropping system project in Myanmar makes significant contribution to local agriculture

The below article was written and published by our colleagues at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). It was originally published on their website on 18 May 2016. 

A project that promotes the adoption of new stress-tolerant rice varieties, greater crop intensification, and diversification, and postharvest management for smallholder farmers in the Ayeyarwady Delta has led to important developments in the local agriculture, according to farmers.

The project, Diversification and Intensification of Rice-based Cropping Systems in Lower Myanmar (MyRice), aims to improve farmers' profitability in Maubin and Daik Oo Townships in the Ayeyarwady and Bago regions, respectively, The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Department of Agriculture (DoA), the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), and private sector partners.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Exciting and surprising outputs have emerged from an irrigation project in Africa

Liz Ogutu, ACIAR’s Regional Manager in Africa, recently visited Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to engage with farmers and discuss the impacts of an irrigation project that has been going since 2013. The project aims to increase the productivity of irrigation in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to enhance food security. Below, Liz reflects on her trip. 

On 30 March 2016 we gathered at the ward offices to meet farmers of the Kiwere Irrigation scheme in Tanzania. In our team, we had Jamie, Henning, Makarius, Marna, Thembi and myself. We were there to engage farmers and to have a discussion about the project that has been ongoing at the scheme since 2013. The project, “Increasing irrigation water productivity in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe through on-farm monitoring, adaptive management and agricultural innovation platforms,” is led by the Australian National University’s Jamie Pittock. As with most ACIAR-funded projects, it was time for project review and this was led by Marna de Lange, Managing Director, Socio-Technical Interfacing Consulting CC.
The mill built by the farmers in Magozi, Tanzania. Photo: Liz Ogutu, ACIAR

Friday, 20 May 2016

Why migratory fish are an important food supply and livelihood for millions of people around the world

For a huge number of fish and other aquatic animals, migration is a part of life. Atlantic salmon return to the same river they were born to lay eggs, whales swim from frigid Antarctic waters to the warmer climes to calf, and whale sharks never stop looking for food (covering thousands of kilometres in the process). There is a belief that fish migration only occurs between salt and fresh water (as in the case of our salmon) but fewer than 1% of species change habitat so drastically. Rather, the vast majority of migrating fish species feed in one place, then migrate to another to breed, all within the same system.

Tuna fishing in Indonesia. Photo: ACIAR