Vision Zero Fund

Myanmar ginger farmers trained on safer and healthier practices

A group of 35 ginger famers and government officials from Myanmar’s Shan State received a week-long training to help reduce the health risks associated with their workplace and improve their agricultural practices.

Article | 06 July 2018
AUNG BAN (ILO News) – Farmers working in the hills of Myanmar’ Shan State are exposed to a number of occupational hazards which often result in long-term injuries with dreadful consequences.

Working long hours under the blazing sun, farmers seldom protect themselves from the various risks the fields expose them to. Muscular sorrows, fatigue and respiratory issues are only a few of the symptoms reported by farmers.

To maximize cropping, some Myanmar farmers also tend to use herbicides and pesticides, but lack the necessary knowledge on the right use of these substances which – if misused – could harm not only the farmers themselves, but also their families and ultimately the consumers of their produce.

Ginger is one of the main products of Shan State. According to the Myanmar Department of Commerce, the annual ginger production totals nearly 60,000 metric tons, representing a great potential for both domestic and international markets. Its supply chain involves a wide number of actors, each of them with a role to play in making this a safer and healthier chain.

The ILO Vision Zero Fund in Myanmar is currently implementing its Phase II which focuses on providing ginger farmers with better information on the safe use of agrochemicals and other occupational safety and health (OSH) related information that can improve their working conditions, as well as empower government stakeholders including the Department of Agriculture.

Gathered in Aung Ban, Shan State, a major trading hub supplying agricultural produce to the rest of Myanmar and to export markets, a group of 35 ginger farmers and government officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce, attended a 5-day ILO training of trainers on good agricultural practices (GAP) and practical approaches for improving safety, health and working conditions in agriculture (WIND).

The ILO WIND methodology was customized to touch upon hazards identified during the Vision Zero Fund assessments, thus covering topics like basic OSH concepts and awareness, materials storage and handling, safe use and handling of tools and inputs, and work environment and welfare facilities.

The main component of the ILO GAP training applied many of the WIND concepts to the certification process of the Global Good Agricultural Practices. This training discussed critical control points related to occupational safety and health by linking OSH concepts to soil management, plant protection, workers’ welfare, and safe use of agrochemicals.

After 4 days of theory, the group of farmers had the opportunity to present themselves the main components of the training. This exercise not only tested their newly acquired technical knowledge, but also allowed them to rehearse for the trainings they will be delivering to their communities.

The farmers also participated in a practical risk assessment exercise where they had to spot hazards in a ginger farm and discuss solutions and correct behaviors to reduce risks.

Through the newly trained farmers who are expected to train their community members, the ILO Vision Zero Fund project aims at reaching out to a population of about 4,500 farmers in six townships of Southern Shan State.