Farming & Agriculture in Myanmar
Part of what makes Myanmar such a photo-worthy destination is the country’s colorful landscapes. In addition to lush forests, stunning beaches and placid lakes are endless stretches of farmland that change colors as the season’s shift. From the vibrant green of new rice stalks to dark red clay-rich soil, the farms of Myanmar are a colorful part of the landscape.
Around 65% of Myanmar’s labor force works in the agriculture sector. And the fruits (literally in some cases!) of their labor are found in markets and restaurants around the country. Fragrant rice, juicy tropical fruits, top-quality coffee and exotic vegetables are just a few of the crops that go direct from farm-to-table in Myanmar.
Taking a closer look at Myanmar’s farming culture unveils another side of the country and its people. You learn about techniques passed down from generation to generation, learn about the- often intense- labor required to produce a simple meal and spend time in the great outdoors alongside local farmers.
Here are just a few of the agriculture-related experiences waiting to be had in Myanmar!
Tea Experience (Location: Pindaya)
It’s hard to spend a day in Myanmar without having tea. The locals love it and plain black tea is served free of charge at most hotels and restaurants, as well as being served to guests when visiting a local home. The charming town of Pindaya is famous for its tea and a 1-hour ‘tea experience’ is a fun, interactive way to learn more about this popular drink. Visit a small family-run tea plantation and learn how leaves are harvested. Continue to the family home to discover the processing of the tea- from drying to drinking as well as how to ferment leaves to make tea leaf salad! And of course, get a chance to sample the tea and unusual salad at the end of the visit!
Agricultural Walk (Location: Pyin Oo Lwin)
It should come as no surprise that Pyin Oo Lwin is home to hundreds of farms. With it’s year-round cool weather and regular rains, the highland town is covered with coffee plantations, strawberry fields, rose gardens and more. A morning walking tour through farms shows you the season’s fresh crops and how they are grown and harvested.
Discover Thanakha (Location: Bagan)
Chances are, you have never heard of thanakha before. This tree is beloved in Myanmar thanks to its special bark which has medicinal qualities. The bark is ground on a stone with water and applied to the skin to help cool off, tighten the pores, and reduce wrinkles. Thanakha is so beloved that Bagan has a museum entirely dedicated to the tree! A visit to the museum reveals interesting displays about the various types of thanakha, where it is grown and, of course, how it is used. If you truly want the local experience at the museum, you can grind your own thanakha and apply to your skin!
Kokkoya Organic Farm (Location: Yangon)
Myanmar’s largest city is not the first place you would think of for an innovative agricultural project! But an ambitious Australian woman and her local friends have created an organic farm in the heart of Yangon! Kokkoya not only grows delicious organic vegetables, it also is a social enterprise that trains women organic farming techniques in hopes they will develop their own urban farm in the near future. Tours of the farm are available on request and there are also regular weekend workshops focused on topics such as learning hydroponic gardening, bee keeping and more!
Exploring Rice Paddies and Farms by bike (Location: Mandalay)
Mandalay appears to be a big sprawling city but not far to the east lies fertile farm land and charming rural villages. A morning bike ride takes you past the city’s main sites and to a vibrant morning market where tons of vegetables, meat, rice and other items are for sale. The ride then loops out of the city and you will find yourself cycling alongside rice paddies, banana plantations and more! Depending on the time of year, you may be able to see the unusual local practice of growing mushrooms, capture images of water buffaloes plowing the fields or pop in to a farmer’s house for a chat!
Eating Seasonal (location: everywhere!)
If you do not have a lot of time in Myanmar, do not worry! You can still experience the country’s agricultural delights by eating seasonal. Certain vegetables and fruits are only available for a limited season each year and tasting them at their best is a mouth-watering experience. Ask your guide for recommendations and you may find yourself savoring a fresh mango juice or tucking in to a delightful mezali-leaf salad.
We hope that by reading about these experiences you are ‘hungry’ to discover Myanmar’s bountiful natural products. If you are keen to get a closer look at Myanmar’s agrarian traditions, be sure to let your travel consultant know!