Community Rice Bank Projects Are Helping Indigenous Karen People in Burma

In many countries of Asia, rice is the most important food on the table.

According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), this grain is a staple food for over half the world’s population.

As well for Indigenous Karen People in Mutraw District, Karen State, Burma. But the impact of climate change in their region had caused rice production to decrease in recent years.

Karen village in Thailand

The Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) had established rice bank projects along with the Mutraw District to increase the production of the grain.

In the documentary titled “ Strengthening Livelihoods and Protecting the Environment” KESAN explains about the benefits of its work with the Karen People.

“The rice bank project is part of our livelihood support program which includes support for irrigation and farmland restoration.” Says Saw Nay Kwan, program coordinator in the doco.

In 1995, These farmers were “displaced when the Burma Army launched military offensives in Mutraw District” Kwan explains.

The main goal of this project is to provide sustainable benefits to the indigenous population of Mutraw District.

As part of the work developed by KESAN its beneficiaries have been trained in establish and manage collectively rice banks in the long term.

“Our rice banks project aims to adapt to climate change and increase food security for the community,” says the project coordinator Saw Nay Kwan.

Before the project started, the region experienced poor rice production. As part of the program, the farmers must avoid chemical products or clear watershed areas or mountain tops for farming.

The community project involves different families, they are in charge of the whole chain of rice production.

“Our rice bank has been operating for three years, during this time we have not needed to use this rice for ourselves.

But other villagers who needed rice borrowed (it), usually in August, so in December, they paid back with interest, which is two tins per 10 tins.” Explains Saw Bway Doh Htoo.

In the future, the social organization plans to implement more projects in the region, such as coffee cultivation and elephant foot yam.

Watch the documentary

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