Improved Lobby and Advocacy Space for Myanmar Pulses Farmers
The lobby and advocacy objective of Civic Engagement Alliance Myanmar is to support farmer representatives to create political space with policymakers e.g. via platforms such as Myanmar Agriculture Network.
ICCO provided a series of lobby and advocacy training to the mungbean farmers in Yangon and Magway Region (with 80% male and 20% female participants). One of the results of these ‘Change the Game!(1)’ methodology based training are action plans on a lobby issue, formulated by the participants themselves. By participating in the training the farmers improved their capability to advocate their issues and challenges to the township level and regional level authorities.
The Alliance program linked farmers’ development associations to become members of Myanmar Agriculture Network. The trained farmers were involved in the process of policy recommendations for pulses and oilseeds sector development. Farmers representatives from Yangon and Magway regions raised their voices according to the lobby and advocacy action plan, especially on pesticide law, fertilizer law and market accessibility.
Lobby at Parliamentary Level
Through the participation in the lobby and advocacy training, farmers’ representatives improved their capacity to lobby and advocate. They also improved linkages with nationwide stakeholders and the farmers’ voices reached the union level parliamentary committees. ICCO together with farmers’ representatives raised their voice to the union level Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development (ALRD) committee of the House of Representatives on the 4th of December 2019. Magway farmers discussed their experience of collective action and the formation of farmers’ development association. Yangon farmers discussed the challenges of formatting an association and related regulations. This was the first pulses farmers’ discussion at a parliamentary committee for registration of farmers’ development association.
After the discussion by farmers’ representatives, the parliamentary committee chairman and the members appreciated the discussion with farmers. The committee was very impressed especially on the amendment of pesticide law and encouraged to do more research. Those recommendation points for pesticide laws were recorded and will be updated with the evidence from the research on the time of law amendment. The ALRD committee advised the farmers to connect more with members of parliament on union level, regional and township level for the formation of farmers associations and they promised to support the farmers by enforcing the Law of Protection of the Farmer Right and Enhancement of their Benefits.
Registration of Yangon Regional Farmers Development Association
As a result of the discussion at the parliamentary committee, the registration process of Yangon Regional Farmers Development Association became smoother with the support of members of parliament. The Yangon Regional Farmers Development Association received its official registration in January 2020.
Another result of the empowerment of the Myanmar pulses farmers representatives were several lobby and advocacy activities from village level till union level. Once registered, farmers of the Yangon Regional Farmers Development Associations could apply for a loan at the financial institution A-Bank. A-Bank now provides an agricultural loan to Yangon pulses farmers with a reasonable interest rate. By collective actions the farmers improved their bargaining capacity, and were able to reduce the interest expense, they increased their income and socioeconomic situation.
*(1) Change the Game is a methodology for capacity development in several topics, amongst which lobby and advocacy mobilizing support, and fund raising, , developed by CEA partner Wilde Ganzen