The DZ project started helping Ko Latt develop partnerships with the DOA and different farmers in the area. Soon after joining, Ko Latt set up a groundnut demonstration plot. The plot demonstrated the effectiveness of compound fertilizers, gypsum use, and quality seed compared with farmer practices and technologies. Farmers began to see how improved inputs can increase yields and result in a better crop. Since then, Ko Latt has worked with IFDC and the DOA to participate in and conduct 17 farmer trainings (Ko Latt initiated five of those), two demonstration plots, and two farmer field days.
By comparing the results of the demonstration plot yields (of peanut) with and without using gypsum, farmers learned the advantages of using gypsum. The demand for gypsum grew significantly. Farmers also became aware that using their traditional seed varieties gave lower yields than the improved seed varieties recommended by DOA.
The farmer trainings, demo plots, and field days have increased Ko Latt’s customer base and created a demand for new products, which the DOA helped him secure. With more products to offer and an increasing clientele, he was able to move to a bigger shop with better visibility and display. Now he offers between 400 and 500 different products, including gypsum, a wider variety of fertilizer blends, safety equipment, and a range of pest management solutions. He also began selling high-quality seed — hybrid seed, green gram, cotton, and groundnut, along with vegetables.
Ko Latt has become a one-stop-shop for many of his customers. Since then, business has been booming.
“Soon after joining with IFDC, I was able to open up a bigger shop in a better location,” Ko Latt said. “Before, I earned only USD $2,000 annually for selling inputs. But last year my annual income increased to USD $20,000.”
Andy Thigpen and Aung Ko Win