Going the Last Mile: Interviews in Unexpected Places

The journey, the destination and the little things.

Proximity Designs
Apr 5, 2018 · 4 min read

Proximity’s customers are farmers and rural entrepreneurs who live in agricultural regions across Myanmar. Farming forms the backbone of Myanmar’s economy.

We offer a range of products and services focusing on farm technology, agronomy advice and farm finance, all designed to meet the specific needs of small plot farmers. In order to understand the social impact, we travel year-round to meet our customers and discover how they are using our products. To do this, we interview them in their villages — usually in their homes, but sometimes in the most unexpected places.

Field trips often require quite a bit of stamina, flexibility and sense of adventure. Buses might be delayed, farmers could be attending a village meeting, or their home miles away from the town center. For us, this is all part of the journey. Here’s a look at some of our travels over the last couple months.

The Journey

Whether it is through the pleasant, cool Shan hills in January or the blistering Dry Zone in March, we endure whatever it takes to get to our farmers.

We row on giant rafts:

Ride motor-powered boats:

Play UNO in the back of pick-up trucks:

Sometimes we switch to Monopoly:

We especially like driving motorbikes:

Right beside a herd of goats:

The Destination

No matter how we get there, the work begins the second we arrive. Interviews are between 30 minutes to two hours long, and vary depending on the research we’re doing. We take trips to gather impact surveys, to understand their fertilizer decisions, and to collect stories.

We interview people on haystacks:

In a forest:

On planks of wood:

On a tiny mat beside the farmer’s house:

In their colorful home:

On a rug with post-it notes:

At their kitchen table:

The Little Things

Once the interviews are finished, we make sure to leave time for exploring. The towns and villages we visit are special; we get to taste traditional food and learn about the regional culture. Often, farmers give us snacks or home-cooked meals to show their hospitality and eating with them shows our respect for the community. Here’s what happens when we get out of the office.

A surprise birthday cake on Pyay beach:

Posing next to a giant pile of cow manure:

Selfies in an onion patch:

Group photos at sunset:

A serenade with a farmer’s guitar:

If you’re up for joining our team in the adventure, check out our opportunities.

Proximity Designs is an award-winning, farmer-focused social enterprise based in Yangon, Myanmar. Learn more at http://www.proximitydesigns.org

Proximity Field Notes

Stories about farmers, rice and Myanmar, told by Proximity Designs

Proximity Designs

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

Proximity Field Notes

Stories about farmers, rice and Myanmar, told by Proximity Designs