Today, the environmental impact of our agricultural systems is becoming increasingly clear. The land degradation caused by prevailing agricultural practices is threatening farmlands, agricultural productivity, and food security.
For several years now, we have been experiencing drought, extreme heat, flooding, weather volatility, shifting seasons, insect infestations, and other symptoms of a warming planet, and the production of crops has been declining year after year.
To tackle the impact of climate change, farmers are overusing inputs, including nitrogenous fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides, which can spoil soil health, lead to power wastage, and deplete groundwater.
The amount of fertilizers used by farmers per acre has been spiraling upwards since some 15 years ago. The overuse of inputs and the triple cropping system has led to degradation of land.
The other problem is that input subsidies for agriculture have resulted in unmindful use of resources, such as water and power, and skewed the cropping pattern, which has, in turn, taken a toll on the environment as well. Monoculture has resulted in an increase in pest and disease attacks on crops and higher usage of chemical fertilizers.
Meanwhile, most of Myanmar farmers have poor knowledge of the systematic use of agricultural inputs. And, environmentally unsustainable farm practices and weather variations are to blame. Therefore, an innovative system based on indigenous and traditional knowledge that improves the natural resource base while increasing productivity is what our agriculture sector needs.
Myanmar is mainly an agricultural nation, with over 60 varieties of crops grown in the country according to season throughout the year. The Union Government has set in place a strategic plan to develop agriculture in order to produce sufficient food that is both safe and nutritional.
Myanmar is able to produce sufficient rice, the staple food, other crops for domestic consumption, and export the surplus.
To reduce the impact of climate change on agriculture, laws related to the use of fertilizers and pesticides need to be properly enforced and farmers need to be continuously given the necessary information and training to prevent overuse of both inputs.
Helping farmers manage climate change can help them improve farming practices. Making farmland available to new farmers and supporting conservation programs that protect it, supporting research on local implementation of climate-friendly farming techniques, such as no-till and silvopasture, and combining solar energy production with crops or grazing can go a long way in improving our agricultural sector.