On March 31 and April 1, MDF Myanmar, Holland Alumni Association Myanmar (HAAM), Golden Plain and AgriProFocus Myanmar organized a Nuffic Alumni event about food security in Yangon.
All Myanmar professionals that studied in the Netherlands or received training from a Dutch institution were invited to network and learn about hot topics related to food security. Furthermore, Dutch and Myanmar companies, NGO’s, farmers organizations and even members of parliament active in the food security sector attended the two day event.
On the first day, Ohnmar Khaing, Myanmar Program Manager at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), introduced the food security framework and current debates. Participants then were invited to share their own ideas about lessons learned and opportunities in shaping food security in Myanmar in a world cafe discussion.
The afternoon session started with a comprehensive overview of current food security policies of the Myanmar government, by U Ba Myo Thein, Chairman of the Peasants Affair Committee. Many participants took their chance to ask critical questions in the Q & A session afterwards. What will the government do to improve secure land rights and do they actually have a policy to support the setup of farmer organizations? The participants highly valued the opportunity to address their questions to the government directly.
After this, the Myanmar and Dutch companies and NGO’s Proximity Designs, Impact Terra, Cordaid and Golden Plain presented their unique contributions for achieving food security in Myanmar, by introducing new technologies and approaches.
The pitches by different stakeholder groups showed how private sector, government, research institutes and NGO’s all make an unique contribution to achieving food security. This idea was further explored during the session about the Dutch diamond and the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration, facilitated by AgriProFocus. Participants were then invited to explore possibilities to work together with other organizations in their region in speed dating sessions. The first day ended with a delicious bbq buffet and some drinks at the beautiful Inya Lake Hotel restaurant at the lake side.
The focus of the second day was on deepening our knowledge and understanding of several important topics related to food security in Myanmar. In the morning, gender and nutrition were discussed in two interactive groups, led by Ohnmar Khaing (ACIAR) and Janine Roelofsen (World Concern). In the afternoon, Lwin Maung Maung Swe from ECODEV discussed the effects of climate change on food security, while Glenn Hunt from the Land Core Group gave some insight into the problems related to customary land rights and food security.
Participants reported they found the event very valuable, both in terms of growing their network and refreshing their knowledge about food security issues in Myanmar. For HAAM, it was their first activity to connect alumni from the Netherlands. Also for AgriProFocus, it was one of the first big events organized in Myanmar and we intend to organize many more, to facilitate linking, learning and leadership.