Norwegian-funded project helps Myanmar grow produce

ISDA – the Inle Special Development Association will grow fruit and vegetables with reduced use of chemicals, mainly for foreign consumers.

According to the Myanmar Times, the Inle-based organization will grow the produce in 65 floating garden beds on the east side of the lake, starting in February.

The US$24,000 (K20 million) project is being funded by the Norwegian government, and Israeli technicians will provide advice.

“This will not be totally organic produce, because there is no market for it here. But we will apply GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) standards,” ISDA chairman Ko Yay Aye told The Myanmar Times.

“Myanmar consumers always choose low-cost products, and aren’t interested in organic foods, which cost more, or for GAP foods. But more and more foreign visitors are coming to Inle Lake, so we hope to sell to them,” he said.

The association will plant Japanese cucumber, seedless papaya and six varieties of peppers, he said.

In the absence of a government body to certify quality, ISDA wants its produce to help set a national standard for fruit and vegetables produced with minimal use of chemicals.

Speaking of the difficulty of getting Myanmar customers to change their consumer habits, Ko Yay Aye said: “In Thailand, if the king makes buys a certain product, lots of people would do the same. There is no equivalent in Myanmar to persuade people to reduce chemical use.”

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