Creating new markets for seeds and vegetables in Kayin, Myanmar

This partnership pilots the development of a new regional market for an international seed supplier in Kayin, Myanmar, primarily using a ‘female lead farmer’ model.

This initiative aims to:

  • improve smallholder farming practices through training and demonstration plots
  • facilitate market linkages to support up to 6,000 farmers (of which 60 per cent are women) to sell their produce.

This initiative brings together two organisations already active in agriculture in Myanmar: East West Seed (EWS) and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).

MEDA is currently active in 29 villages in Kayin, improving rice production and working closely with the private sector. EWS is working with over 4,000 smallholder farmers in other parts of Myanmar, and across South East and South Asia. To support this initiative, DFAT is providing critical co-investment and high-level advocacy.

Location of partnership

Partnership aims

  • Develop the market and build long term market links for quality agricultural seeds and other agricultural inputs such as plastic mulching, trellis netting, seed trays, and safer and more effective agro-chemicals.
  • Stimulate Kayin’s vegetable sector to ensure smallholder farmers are competitive and have access to quality agricultural products, with opportunities to share knowledge and adopt improved sustainable production practices.
  • Pilot the approach of working primarily with women farmers, with a view to enabling women to participate in all aspects of vegetable farming and marketing.

Key facts




Gender equality

This initiative specifically promotes gender equality by:

  • Promoting women’s economic empowerment by improving female farmers’ knowledge and practices in growing market vegetables and forming new market linkages for the sale of their products.
  • Enhancing women’s voices in community leadership by promoting female lead farmers and sales agents.

The partnership provides training for 60 female and 30 male lead farmers. Early research shows women farmers are more likely than male farmers to share learnings with others in their community and are often more diligent in applying new knowledge than their male counterparts. The partnership aims to show real examples of how and why women farmers benefit the household and wider community, as well as agribusiness.  The wider target, using the lead farmer model, is to improve the knowledge, productivity and income of 6,000 farmers of which 60 per cent are women.

Shared value

This partnership creates shared value by:

  • reconceiving product and markets
  • redefining productivity in the value chain
  • enabling local cluster development.

EWS already has good market share for its vegetable seed sales in Myanmar, however, not across all parts of the country. This initiative allows EWS to grow its seed sales in a new state, which is rebuilding following 60 years of armed conflict.

Supply chain actors, including input suppliers, traders and wholesalers will benefit from the availability of new products and business opportunities.

Around 6,000 farmers will increase their productivity and incomes through access to new, higher yielding vegetable seed varieties and the use of better farming techniques.

What is shared value?

Shared value is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in the regions where they operate. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue. The BPP is helping businesses partner with the Australian aid program in achieving shared value – advancing both social and economic objectives. These partnerships are primarily being created in one or more of the following ways:

  • Reconceiving products and markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain
  • Enabling local cluster development

Partner information

East West Seed (EWS)

EWS has been selling seeds in Myanmar for over 10 years.  EWS work closely with smallholder farmers and input suppliers, and research environmental conditions to improve tropical vegetable varieties. EWS estimates more than 100,000 Myanmar farmers already benefit from the company's improved seed varieties. Under this initiative, EWS will provide training to farmers and input suppliers, and incentivise seed promotion.

East-West Seed logo  


For 60 years, MEDA has implemented market-driven initiatives in the developing world. MEDA focuses on market systems development, inclusive financial services, and investment-led programming. MEDA has a strong history in agriculture, building and strengthening the business foundations and commercial relationships smallholder farmers need to improve their livelihoods. For this initiative, MEDA will embed a ‘female lead farmer’ approach while generating lessons learned to be shared with agribusinesses and other stakeholders.

MEDA logo  

Last Updated: 20 October 2017