The CESD field team has been busy visiting townships in Chin and Shan State collecting data on cultivation practices and current practices. The baseline survey seeks to understand avocado cultivator practices and identify their challenges and needs. Avocados are a nutrient-rich, high protein fruit with extensive international demand, especially in large, developed markets such as the United States, Japan, and China. The baseline survey will ultimately provide a set of next steps and recommendations for the Myanmar government, private sector institutions, and NGOs to provide Myanmar’s budding avocado cultivators.

27901439_1419668491476006_45746040_o.jpg(A CESD Research Assistant, Ms. Khin Suu Thet, talks to a respondent in Chin State)

During CESD’s research in Shan State, field teams visited the Taunggyi and Hopong Townships, focusing on avocado cultivation data collection. Some researchers visited farmers and collected qualitative data on cultivation. Though the exact total is unknown, avocado cultivation in Taunggyi and Hopong has increased remarkably in the past few years. Farmers indicated that one acre of avocado cultivation yields about sixty to seventy avocado trees, which, in the Taunggyi and Hopong Townships, are an easy to grow, year-round crop. Currently, farmers obtain avocado seeds from their leftover avocados and from a few farmers in the region who have plant nurseries, however, trees take three years to grow mature fruit and another two to produce large quantities.

Farmers indicated their desire to export their avocados to China, Cambodia, and Japan said they need more technology such as higher quality seeds, different species of avocados, and fertilizer expertise. Currently, farmers are largely limited to a species of large avocados, while many customers in China and Japan prefer the smaller hass avocados. To increase the quality and yield of their crop farmers indicated they needed more knowledge on when to use fertilizer and how much to use. Finally, farmers were curious to know if the year-round cultivation of avocados might exhaust the soil and how to prevent this potential depletion.

As in many rural parts of Myanmar, the farmers lacked access to financial institutions that could finance their inputs and crops. However, this solution may be coming in the near future as farmers in Taunggyi and Hopong were happy to report their villages had electricity. In the meantime, farmers said that some Chinese individuals had visited their farms and purchased some of their avocado trees and were exporting some of their crop to China. This ongoing export, however limited, indicates an existing supply chain of Myanmar avocados to China – a network many farmers would be well-suited to utilize and expand.

27786966_1419668388142683_227687720_o.jpg(Some of the CESD field research team poses for a photo with respondents in Chin State)

During the visits, CESD found farmers had some inventive solutions to old problems. Many farmers prune the top of their avocado trees so branches hang lower. This allows for women and shorter individuals to pick the avocados more quickly. Additionally, farmers had perfected combining unproductive trees with better trees to create a larger productive tree.

CESD was enthusiastic to the see the volume of avocado production and innovation of farmers. It looks forward to helping them increase their yields, quality, and standard of living!