“Laser land leveling is not a new technology in Myanmar having been first used in 1996,” said U Ko Ko Maung, deputy director general of the Agricultural Mechanization Department (AMD). “However, most farmers still rely on manual leveling methods. Adopting the laser land leveling technology can help reduce the high rice production costs and labor intensity associated with manual leveling.”
The Agricultural Development Support Project (ADSP) aims to increase the capacity of AMD and the private sector in promoting the wide-scale adoption of laser leveling among farmers. To realize this target, a training on laser land leveling was coordinated and organized by AMD and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) under the ADSP on 10-13 December 2019. Twenty-seven extension staff from AMD and five staff from private sector companies Tunyat Limited and Pioneer Agrobiz Co. Ltd attended the training held at the Agricultural Mechanization Training Center (AMTC) and the Department of Agriculture fields in Yezin.
The participants experienced classroom discussions and hands-on exercises on tractor driving and preventive maintenance, setting-up of the laser leveling system, and actual laser land leveling operation in the field. “I liked the training technique which is a combination of theory and practice,” said Si Thu Moe Myat, a fleet coordinator at Tunyat Ltd. “It is the best way to learn easily.” Currently, Tunyat Ltd. works with farmers on land preparation and harvesting. The company is planning to add laser leveling to the services they provide to the farmers.
“We are able to serve 50, 000 farmers in one year from one to four areas in Hinthada Township in Ayeyawardy Region where we have our branch office,” said Mr. Si Thu. “Our main office is located in Yangon and we are planning to extend the branch to Saline Township in Magway Region and open a branch in Shan and Kayine States in 2020.”
An extension staff from AMD in Monywa Township, Myo Thant, said that he learnt much about laser land leveling and tractor maintenance from the training. Before, he did not consider equipment maintenance as important. Now he understands the value of maintaining tractors and implements and checking everything before working in the field.
“I also liked the field survey exercise which is a prerequisite to do laser leveling properly,“ Mr. Myo added.
Htain Lin Aung, a representative from Pioneer Agrobiz Co., Ltd, said he learned new things from the training on tractor driving included in the AMD-IRRI workshop but is not covered in other laser land leveling training he previously attended. In 2019, their company sold six units of laser leveling system in Myanmar, three units were sold to AMD.
To ensure that the equipment is available in Myanmar and satisfy increasing demand, IRRI has also worked with the private sector in Australia, Thailand, and Myanmar to establish an equipment supply chain. Since the second half of 2019, Pioneer Agrobiz Co., Ltd. serves as the official importer of TRIMBLE laser equipment in Myanmar.
During the closing ceremony, U Win Myaing, principal at AMTC, lauded the event and affirmed the effective training design that enabled the participants learn and experience the technology.
The next batch of training of trainers on laser land leveling is slated in April 2020 during the fallow season.
Engr. Balingbing works at the Mechanization and Postharvest Cluster, Sustainable Impact Platform at IRRI.