MU research farms help farmers from Myanmar
COLUMBIA - 50-year-old Agnes Ngun Cer Thluai farms around 2.5 acres of land to feed her family. She is from the Zathlir village in the Chin State of Myanmar. She recently visited farmers at MU's southern research farm.
She doesn't understand a word of English. She watched farmers hands as they explain how their operations process and store seed.
Dominic S. Thla Ceu, however, speaks many languages. He works for an organization called Karuna Mission for Social Solidarity, where he is the project coordinator for the Productive Agriculture through Community Engagement project.
The two were able to come to the United States to learn more about farming sustainability through a program run by Foods Resource Bank, an organization that raises money to help people in developing countries grow food more efficiently.
Associate Regional Manager Rachel Brink said the the group follows the philosophy "if you give a man a fish, he eats for the day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life."
"If you really want to see lasting change, people have to be able to do them for themselves," Brink said. "If people help themselves, it lasts for a lifetime. People are able to grow their own food and have the dignity of feeding themselves."
Agnes and Dominic will visit farms in six different states to learn more about producing and storing corn mostly.
"The terrain is very mountainous in the Chin State, the region they're from, so they produce a lot of corn," Brink said. "This program will not only teach them better ways to grow corn, but how to store it as well, they lose a lot of their supply in their storage process."
Dominic said he hopes the information he picks up here will help expand his knowledge. He said he is interested in social entrepreneurship and development works, especially farmers, the poor, and marginalized people in his state.
"It is a good learn for me that I can bring back to my country," Dominic said. "And also continue learning about this process."