Transforming a Challenge into an Opportunity

Imagine turning a struggle into a success story. Daw Nang Pauk, a 44-year-old resident of Htee Phoo village, did just that. She and her family have always struggled financially, but everything changed when they joined a ginger cultivation project organized by Shanta Foundation.

Daw lives with her husband, adult children, and a grandchild. Her adult children and daughter-in-law decided to do migrant work in Thailand for a more stable income, yet this takes them away from home for long periods of time. Plus, the travel is difficult and dangerous due to the civil war in Myanmar. Daw’s husband picks up extra work as a carpenter in the summer season to help make ends meet. All of their efforts earn them an average annual income of $1,429.

Daw and her husband care for their grandchild while also farming various crops like cheroot and corn; they also practice pig husbandry for income. In 2022, Shanta piloted a new agriculture program, and Daw jumped at the opportunity for a more profitable crop. Through trainings led by Muditar (Shanta’s implementing partner on-the-ground in Myanmar), Daw learned about ginger cultivation and received $56 of support from Shanta Foundation for land preparation and seeds. Through additional trainings provided by Shanta/Muditar, Daw learned how to produce high-quality organic manure from her pig operation. Through these learning opportunities, she discovered the differences between natural and chemical fertilizers and that one application of organic manure is as effective as two applications of chemical fertilizers. Furthermore, the production of organic manure is helpful to the environment and reduces the amount she was spending on chemical fertilizer.

She planted 492 kg of ginger rhizomes on 0.20 acres and diligently maintained farming records, something she had never done before. The results were remarkable. In a single season, she earned 1,069,625 Kyats ($306), and in the second season, she made 3,230,000 Kyats ($928). This brought the total income from ginger cultivation to 4,299,625 Kyats ($1,228), with a profit of 3,500,000 Kyats ($1,000) greatly increasing her family’s income!

This success allowed Daw Nang Pauk’s family to pay off debts, improve their home by pouring a concrete floor, and cover general household expenses and village development taxes. She and her husband even plan to expand their ginger cultivation in the future. Daw expressed her gratitude for this new income-generating project. She highlighted the importance of record-keeping and the benefits of organic manure production from pig husbandry. She’s now considering focusing more on ginger cultivation and gradually transitioning away from cheroot farming.

Daw Nang Pauk’s husband expressed his view on this new project, stating, “Ginger cultivation proves to be more profitable than planting other crops during these seasons due to the high price of ginger. I plan to cultivate ginger annually and reinvest by planting more seeds, even if the price of ginger is low.”

Daw Nang Pauk highlighted the importance of maintaining farmer records, stating, “Through my participation in the project, I have gained a deeper understanding of record-keeping and ginger cultivation. Keeping records allows me to accurately track profits and losses. Previously, I did not keep any records while farming, which resulted in uncertainty regarding financial outcomes.”