Cultivating the post-conflict coffee sector in myanmar
Providing opportunities to coffee farmers and victims of conflict in Myanmar.
One of the poorest countries in Asia, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) also happens to grow some of the world’s finest coffee. After decades of military dictatorship, economic sanctions, and ethnic conflict, Myanmar has embarked on a new path of political and economic development. Myanmar’s coffee sector is experiencing a revival, offering thousands of poor farmers the opportunities to earn a living and secure a future for their families.
The legacy of conflict and isolation
However, the sector is facing a number of challenges. Landmines litter the country and still claim thousands of victims causing horrendous life changing injuries and deaths, this impacts not only the victim but on their entire family.
Years of military rule and international isolation has led to the fragmentation of community structures and a weak internal and export market. These factors, coupled with a vast informal economy where many farmers have been selling their coffee to middlemen who smuggle it over the border to Thailand or Laos has affected quality. Many farmers have also turned their land over to the cultivation of more lucrative and less regulated crops such as opium poppies.
Generating employment opportunities in local communities
SHIFT is partnering with the Polus Center to develop opportunities for communities to earn a decent living from their coffee and to allow landmine victims an opportunity to find employment in the coffee sector.
The project will work with smallholder farmers to help them organize as producer groups, provide training in farm management and financial literacy, as well as technical skills such as good agricultural practices and optimal post production milling and drying techniques improve the quality of their coffee. The project will be anchored on a technical/vocational college that will train women, young people and landmine victims in skills necessary to work in non-labouring vocations linked to the coffee sector, such as such as quality controller, collector, sorter.
Together the Polus Center and SHIFT Social Impact Solutions/ are collaborating to improve the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers in Myanmar.
Location: Kayin State, Myanmar.
Coffee type: Arabica and Robusta
Farmers impacted: +2,000 farmers
In the coming year, SHIFT and Polus Center will launch their Kayin State Program that will organize and train farmers, as well as develop a vocational/training center to develop economic opportunities for landmine victims in coffee communities.