Zin Mar Kyaw is an entrepreneur who started as an input retailer and invested her earnings in agricultural land. Starting with 25 acres, she now has rice planted on 180 acres. She saw the value of urea deep placement (UDP) technology and was the first in the country to purchase a briquetting machine via the Fertilizer Sector Improvement (FSI+) project and has participated in nutrient omission trials with the Land Use Division of the Department of Agriculture.
She lives with her family in Nyaung Thone Bin, Thanlyin township in the Yangon region of Myanmar. Her parents had a rice wholesale business and opened an agro-input retail shop in 2002. Zin Mar helped her parents in marketing. Although she has diplomas in engineering and math, she was interested in agriculture and expanded the family business to buying and working farm land in 2009. Zin Mar, now 43 years old, has run the business since then.
In cooperation with the FSI+ team, Zin Mar uses her fields for farmer demonstrations including mechanical application of UDP with equipment provided by the FSI project. Since her farm is located on a major highway, many people can observe the better results achieved with UDP technology. Her rice yield from UDP is 10-12% higher than traditional broadcast practices, and the cost of fertilizer is less. She also grows sesame and rice in the dry season.
Until mechanical application is readily available and the market grows for urea briquettes, she produces them for her own use. Zin Mar says, “I have been working with agriculture for more than 10 years with traditional agricultural practices. I’m currently applying UDP to my 30-acre farm because it is a low-cost, urea-saving, and high-yielding technology, as well as being better for the environment.” In the meantime, her fertilizer business is growing rapidly.
USAID officials attended the launch of her briquette machine, and the publicity helped her be selected for a U.S. study tour for Burmese small and medium enterprise owners. According to Zin Mar, “That experience as well as working with the FSI project has expanded my horizons and business linkages.”
An enterprising investor, Zin Mar purchased a rice mill and farm equipment to provide plowing and harvesting services to farmers in addition to her retail sale of inputs. She has 15 full-time and 30-35 seasonal workers. Additionally, she provides credit and door-to-door input supply service to farmers.
Zin Mar has been working for agricultural development and support to famers. She is currently a member of the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF), which represents the private sector rice industry of Myanmar. She is also a committee member of the land acquisition and resettlement committee in Yangon Region. She is active in social and religious activities. Also she serves as a Vice-president of the “Shwe Parami Health Care Foundation,” an independently run, non-governmental organization in Thanlyin Township dedicated to lending a helping hand to those in need of health care in Myanmar regardless of race or religion.
“I’m very happy working with the FSI team as a family since the project began. I really appreciate USAID and IFDC for their support in bringing us good technology, briquetting machines, valuable trainings and other productive opportunities,” noted Zin Mar.
The USAID-funded fertilizer sector improvement project will end in 2019. The goal of the five-year project has been to increase incomes and enhance food security for smallholder rice farmers in Yangon, Ayeyarwady and Bago regions and southern Shan State by increasing crop yield and net incomes. The project promotes balanced fertilizer application, high-yielding seed varieties and good agriculture practices (GAP).