Quick scan and study saline agriculture, Ayeyarwady delta
Arcadis (lead), The Salt Doctors, Wageningen University and Research,
in cooperation with MoAli, farmers and other stakeholders.
Supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Yangon,
financed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)
6 months, 2019-2020
Myanmar is widely recognized to be one of the countries that is most vulnerable to climate change.
The ocean tides, combined with the river geometry and the discharge of the river, determine how far the saline water
intrudes into the delta. Especially during low discharge and spring tide, the salinity front can move deeper into the delta.
Because of the large tidal propagation inside the deltas of Myanmar, the salinity front is able to move far inland.
A large part of the coastal areas is affected by soil salinity, causing unfavorable conditions and restricting normal crop production throughout the year.
A switch to saline agriculture at relevant locations could provide a wide range of possible benefits for Myanmar.
Including improved livelihoods of farmers, enhanced food security, knowledge development and economic growth.
The primary goal of this project is to explore by means of a quick scan if introduction of salt tolerant crops and improved management practices is feasible and supportive to the development of sustainable climate-smart agriculture in the coastal areas of Myanmar.
With the aim of securing food production, nutrition and increased income for the local farmers, with also protection of biodiversity as a (future) key deliverable.
The quick scan will focus on the Ayeyarwady region (partly) and Yangon Region. Secondly, this project aims to form the basis for long-term engagements from the Netherlands with coastal areas in the whole of Myanmar.
The produced fact sheet can be found here.
During the quick scan, field visits to several townships in the Ayeyarwady Delta
(i.e. Pyapon, Bogale, Dala, Kungyangon),
and discussions with various stakeholder parties enabled the analysis of the saline agriculture potential.
Several observations were made of which the following are pivotal:
1. Salinity is a seasonal problem. Farmers mainly grow rice until mid-December, and experience saline conditions from Jan to May in the dry season. Most farmers only grow one crop (rice), a second crop is not possible when using the 145-day variety. Around 770,000ha is suitable for saline agriculture in the delta based on saline groundwater fronts.
2. Farmers have little to no experience regarding growing crops under saline conditions. When introducing a second crop, it should not only be salt tolerant, but also soil type, growth cycle and market demand should be considered.
3. Farmers have little capacity to invest in crop diversification and little experience with crop cultivation besides rice.
4. There are vegetable crop varieties with salinity resistance available and piloted outside of Myanmar (Salt Doctors).
5. No training is currently available to train farmers on saline agriculture and to guide a pilot to experiment with saline agriculture.
6. Potential for embedding new knowledge and activities on saline agriculture: Both Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI) and Yezin Agriculture University recognize the importance and expressed keen interest to join.