Amid so much uncertainty, supporting those who grow Myanmar’s food has never been more important.

Before Covid-19, sesame being bundled by a farmer and laborers for drying.

The past few weeks have seen Myanmar’s farmers hit with falling prices, border closures and uncertain markets as the pandemic ravages economies worldwide. Local movement restrictions, labor shortages and a decline in access to brokers have compounded the impact the crisis has had on rural communities.

It was clear we would need a ‘jolt’ to our strategy and operations so we could respond to the needs of farmers, who supply food to Myanmar’s 54.6 million residents. …


Why tomato growers are harder hit than rice farmers, and social distancing can be more difficult in the Dry Zone.

A paddy farmer harvests his crops.
A paddy farmer harvests his crops.
A paddy farmer harvesting his crops.

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to make itself felt in Myanmar last month, people in rural areas sprung into action. With scarce resources, and often far from the country’s commercial and political hubs, farming communities are often resilient and proactive in a crisis.

U Tun Lwin, the administrator of Thee Lone village in Sagaing Region, has assembled a team of residents to track people’s movements in and out of the village and check for fever using temperature guns that he…


A husband and wife struggled to save money for a side business, then they found a loan tailored to their needs.

Kan Ywar village in Myanmar’s Central Dry Zone is mostly serene and quiet. Roosters crow, bulls grunt, and cart wheels creak — occasionally, an engine somewhere putters.

If it weren’t for Daw Hlaing Hlaing and her husband U Aung Thu Win, that would be about it.

But with their stacks of speakers, a large soundboard covered in knobs and dials, and a sturdy microphone, the pair have been treating their neighbors and other villages to large doses of noise…


Two brothers-in-law were at the mercy of unpredictable rainfall until they found a community of forward-thinking farmers online

The farmland surrounding Khaing Taw Lay village in Magway region is a mismatched patchwork of different crops grown by a multitude of smallholders.

Decades of economic isolation means hardworking families here have learned to be resourceful with limited technology and few modern farming techniques.

Yields are low and uncertain, pests are persistent, and much of the work is done by hand. That includes digging ditches to supply water to the fields.

But on a five-acre plot owned by brothers-in-law Ko Hlaing Min…


A Proximity staffer spent a week on the road with our research team to learn exactly what we mean when we say design research.

The sound of a brass gong pierces the air, marking the end of breakfast and the start of a busy work day for our team of design researchers.

With bellies full of coconut noodles, the 10 experts huddle in the dining room at their hotel in Magway, in Myanmar’s central dry zone, to discuss the day ahead.

There’ll be in-depth interviews at a small sesame farming village on the outskirts of town, and a visit to…


U Kyaw Hlaing once spent hours each day lugging water buckets in the hot sun, now irrigating his farm takes minutes

U Kyaw Hlaing, 56, guava farmer

“I’ve lived in Kyaung Gon village in the Irrawaddy Delta my whole life. Most people here are rice farmers. I share a house with my wife, my two daughters, my elderly sister and my mother. I love our house. It’s an old wooden one that I’ve lived in all my life. It’s quiet in the daytime but in the evenings when my daughters are there it fills up with laughter and conversation. …


For us, innovation isn’t about the latest tech trend or industry buzzwords. It’s about designing affordable, high quality products for one of the world’s most underserved markets. Our first product was a simple treadle pump all the way back in 2004. Today we offer a portfolio of more than 20 products and services that have generated more than US$300 million in increased profits for our customers. Designing for impact at this scale is a group effort that requires extensive cross-collaboration between our in-house design Lab and teams from across our farm tech, farm advice and farm finance platforms.

“There’s a…


New Head of Business Operations Thiri Yadana brings decades of brand building experience to Yetagon Irrigation.

When it comes to building a brand, few in Myanmar have as much experience as Thiri Yadana. Her list of achievements includes turning a little-known foreign toothpaste brand into a household name and establishing a telecoms company in a market where less than 20% of the population had access to a mobile phone.

In January, Thiri joined Yetagon Irrigation as our Head of Business Operations. Much like the commercial sector where Thiri carved out her career, Yetagon is subject to the same crests and…


Proximity’s Farm Advisory Services is set to expand with two new leaders at the helm.

Nang Seng Aye is passionate about soil. As one of just a handful of people in the country with a Ph.D. in Soil Science, she looks at the ground beneath her feet and sees so much more than just dirt.

“Soil is a precious, a non-renewable natural resource made up of minerals, organic material, and billions of living organisms. Without it, life wouldn’t exist,” says Nang Seng Aye.

It was a conversation many years ago with a soil scientist while Nang, then fresh out of…


We’re sometimes asked why we work in farming. Why, of all the many things we could task ourselves with, did we choose the incomes of smallholder farmers?

The answer is simple: If you want to help the people of Myanmar, farming is a pretty good place to start. Despite rapid urbanization in recent years, the population remains overwhelmingly rural. 70 percent of the population rely on the land for their livelihoods. This country of 55 million is a nation of smallholder farmers.

After decades of isolation, these farmers are left cut off from the kind of resources those working the…

Proximity Designs

We design products and services that help rural Myanmar families achieve their goals. http://proximitydesigns.org

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