Drs. Jonathan Crane and Randy Ploetz, members of the University of Florida Tropical Research and Education Center, recently completed volunteer assignments in the Shan State region of Burma (also known as Myanmar), as part of the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program. During this two-part assignment, volunteers in the fields of avocado production and disease management were requested by the Myanmar Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association (MFFVPEA) to assess the overall condition of avocado production in Burma.
Dr. Jonathan Crane, a tropical fruit crop specialist, was first to arrive. During his assignment, he was able to visit several small farms where he spoke to farmers and offered them advice for improving their avocado production. In addition, he conducted trainings where farmers learned about several topics such as fruit and variety classification, pruning, and propagation through grafting.
Dr. Randy Ploetz, a specialist in plant pathology, arrived next to assess disease and other constraints to production. He also visited farms where he was able to analyze current disease patterns, demonstrate methods to control these diseases, and provide trainings on the different types of avocado diseases as well as how to identify and control them.
In Burma, avocados are used primarily to produce a sweet, milkshake-like dessert drink; however, both volunteers agree that by successfully increasing avocado production and expanding their market to include other uses, these trees may offer a great opportunity to bring additional income to farmers throughout the country.
Check out some photos from the assignment below: