Soilless Horticulture and other Water-saving Innovative Technologies for Landless and Marginal Farmers (SOW-IT)


Myanmar is located in South East Asia and covers an area of 676.577 Km2. The population is around 56 million inhabitants, of which 31% are in urban areas and 69% in rural areas. Myanmar is still an agricultural country and agriculture is the backbone of its economy, contributing around 35% to the formation of GDP and employing over 60% of the workforce. Despite this important role of agriculture, there are areas in which the inhabitants are subject to precarious living conditions characterized by food insecurity and limited job opportunities. One of these is the Dry Zone, located in the central part of the country which represents approximately 10 - 13% of the total area. The Dry Zone has a population equal to 27% of the entire population.

The subsistence of the populations of the Dry Zone is highly dependent on the monsoon season, coming from the south west, which provide the region with irregular rainfall. The most recent survey on the food security situation in the Dry Zone conducted by the World Food Program (WFP) in February 2011, in collaboration with several partners, including TDH Italy, highlighted that 40% of the population is vulnerable to food security and, among these, the most endangered group is composed of the landless, who live on occasional jobs, and small farmers. The most precarious conditions in terms of food safety have been found in areas that also include the provinces of Yenanchaung and Natmauk, in which TDH Italia has been working since 2004.

The objective of the project was to support the most needy communities of the Dry Zone and promote the improvement of nutritional conditions and income. The strategies used were: the diffusion of family gardens, nutritional education and the improvement of community access and management of water resources. In the 75 villages where the intervention is still developing (most of them in the provinces of Yenanchaung and Natmauk), more than 1,000 low water consumption cultivation systems have been built (simplified hydroponics and drip irrigation systems), with recyclable material and found locally, at low cost and limited maintenance, which allow the inhabitants to have fresh vegetables every day of the year.

Renovation of water infrastructure, creation and training of community groups for the management of these resources, nutritional and hygiene training sessions and, finally, creation of production groups and microcredit. The horticulture group of the Department of Agricultural Sciences of the Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, promoted the project and carried out scientific advice with periodic monitoring and evaluation activities.



The project, started in 2014, is funded by LIFT / UNOPS, and was carried out by Terre des Hommes Italia, with the involvement of the Yezin University of Agricultural Sciences of Myanmar.