For the first time, 29 students in the International Agriculture in Developing Nations course had the opportunity to undertake a field study tour of Myanmar Jan. 1-16. It was the 49th class trip, through which students have visited Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and India.
“We decided to go to Myanmar this year because of the enormous changes underway in the country,” said Ronnie Coffman, international professor of plant breeding at Cornell and director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Agriculture plays an important part in this emerging economy, and this trip enabled students to see, firsthand, the challenges and opportunities faced by farmers.”
The group surveyed a range of agroecologies and production environments, traveling throughout the central dry zone, Inle Lake and Ayerwaddy Delta. Meetings with farmers gave students insight into various cultivation systems, from hydroponic tomato farming to small-scale melon production, while visits to agribusinesses highlighted the increasing trade and knowledge exchanges between Myanmar and its neighbors. The group also learned about alternative livelihoods, such as lotus weaving and lacquerware manufacturing, and engaged in Myanmar culture with visits to pagodas, temples and traditional puppet shows.
Marvin Pritts, Horticulture Section Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Plant Sciences Major was among the Cornell faculty leading the trip.