Saturday, 11 Jul 2020

A modern, greener solution for farmers

When brown lesions and spots started showing up on their crops and spreading across acres of rice fields in Dedaye township, Ayeyarwady Region, back in 2014, farmers thought it was a pest or insect attack and doused the crops with pesticide.

“Some farmers used large quantities of the most potent pesticides they could find in Myanmar, wiping out not just the entire rice field but also the birds that fed on the crops as well,” said Ko Thein Soe Min, co-founder and director of innovation of Green Road, a Myanmar agri-tech company.

As it turned out, the crops had been hit with rice blast disease, which is caused by the Magnaporthe oryzae fungus.

According to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development of Australia, the disease is considered one of the biggest problems faced by rice growers worldwide because of its extensive distribution and destructiveness under the right conditions,.

At the time, Ko Thein Soe Min, an agriculture expert, had been out of town and was not reachable by phone. When he returned, the farmers had already lost their rice.

From this experience, Ko Thein Soe Min decided to find a way to connect farmers with agricultural experts in Myanmar. He was born into a farming family and graduated from Agricultural

University in 2009. In 2011, he started his own business that grew organic lettuce to supply to hotels and restaurants.

From spending most of his time advancing development of the country’s agricultural sector, he developed a deep understanding of farming challenges in Myanmar and in doing so noticed that what was lacking is a agriculture website tailored for local farmers. He later developed an app version, leveraging technology for further development.