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PROFILE—KHIN LAY KYU
OF MAKING A
At the Department of Agricultural Research in
Myanmar, the perennial pigeon pea is of interest
to breeders as much for the plant’s hardy, widely
adaptable and heat-tolerant characteristics as for the
nutritious grain it produces. Being a legume, the plant
can also fertilise soils through fixing nitrogen.
These properties of pigeon pea are of great interest
to breeder Khin Lay Kyu, who works for the Department
of Agricultural Research and has developed new pigeon
pea varieties adapted for farmers in Burma.
She has been involved with ACIAR projects since
2007, particularly working with Professor David
Herridge at the University of New England in Australia
and Dr K.B. Saxena at the International Crops Research
Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India.
“ These projects have helped me to develop skills in
plant breeding,” she says. “A highlight of participating
in ACIAR projects is that I am part of the international
science community and have access to the wisdom
and experience of international experts in the field.
These connections also allow me to access modern
approaches to breeding that I can apply to helping
poor farmers of Myanmar.”
The exposure to collaborative, international plant
breeding research has opened the way for Khin Lay Kyu
to undertake additional training abroad. She completed
a master’s degree in India at the Acharya N.G. Ranga
Agricultural University and conducted research for her
thesis at ICRISAT under the guidance of Dr Saxena.
“ There, I learned about the hybrid pigeon-
pea breeding program and low-cost production
technologies,” she says. “I am now applying these
approaches in Myanmar, breeding pigeon pea varieties
suitable to our growing conditions and seasons. I want
to be a smart plant breeder and develop new, high-
yielding varieties that have wide adaptability, high yield
and good quality.
“I just want to work for our farmers and country,
and the ACIAR projects are helping me to do this. In
Myanmar many of the best agricultural scientists are
women, and I hope that they will have as much chance
of success and high ranking as men.”
and per-urban areas. Celia Greening, executive
director of the KYEEMA Foundation, has managed
Newcastle disease vaccination projects from her
Brisbane office since 2003 when she oversaw the
southern Africa Newcastle disease project.
Dr Rosa Costa was the director of the Mozambican
National Veterinary Research Institute in the 1990s
and early 2000s when the Newcastle disease
laboratory and field trials were conducted. Her
support was vital to the success of the research.
THE FEMALE COMMUNITY ASSISTANTS
Rosemary Ackley (community assistant) and
Carolina Mwaluka (poultry vaccinator) are
important members of the ACIAR project team,
working tirelessly for improved food and nutrition
security in their communities.
THE NEXT GENERATION
The next generation of interdisciplinary
researchers are early-career researchers building
their research skills in association with ACIAR-
associated food and nutrition security research.
Julia de Bruyn is an Australian veterinarian
researching for the One Health initiative—a
global movement to unite human and
veterinary medicine. She is undertaking her PhD
research in Tanzania in association with ACIAR
project FSC/2012/023. Her research is entitled
‘Healthy chickens, healthy children: sustainable
contributions to infant nutrition through the
control of Newcastle disease in village poultry’.
Dr Johanna Wong, a second Australian veterinary
PhD student and One Health researcher, is working
on ‘Discovering the links between poultry health
and human diets and nutrition in Timor-Leste.’
Over time, it became clear that women often
make the best village-based vaccinators. Associate
Professor Alders says they are more persistent,
know the households and tend to be less mobile
than young men, who sometimes leave the village
in search of paid work. “Communities usually start
to preferentially select women once they see their
results,” she says.
Although ACIAR covered vaccination costs
during the trial phase, the cost-recovery system
subsequently used makes the system sustainable.
The two cents paid for each bird vaccinated
ensures the vaccinators can purchase more
vaccine and make a small profit from their work.
The women who farm the village chickens
are also able to consult with the village-based
vaccinator, gauge demand for the vaccine and
ensure its ongoing supply and production.
Although subsidy models exist, and vary from
country to country, Associate Professor Alders
believes cost recovery works best as government
funding can unpredictably dry up. “It better serves
women’s prospects for improved livelihoods,
nutrition and animal health,” she says. n
ACIAR PROJECT: FSC/2012/023 ‘Strengthening food
and nutrition security through family poultry and crop
integration in Tanzania and Zambia’
MORE INFORMATION: Robyn Alders,
MEDIA LINKS: 360degreefilms.com.au/productions/
Where Newcastle disease
is not controlled, eggs are
not available for food but
must either be used to hatch
chickens or are exclusively
eaten by men. That means the
disease is robbing communities
of a nutritionally dense,
balanced food in the midst
of unacceptably high rates of
– Associate Professor Robyn Alders
Khin Lay Kyu of the Department of
Agricultural Research in Myanmar.
Wende Maulaga is the current Tanzanian
country coordinator of the ACIAR-funded project
‘Strengthening food and nutrition security through
family poultry and crop integration in Tanzania and
Zambia’, which aims to reduce child undernutrition
by improving family poultry and crop production,
primarily by working through women smallholder
farmers. Ms Maulaga is an animal nutritionist at the
Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency, and has a
flair for community development.
Dr Hilda Lumbwe is the Zambian country
coordinator with the same project. Dr Lumbwe is
a veterinarian with a background in poultry health.
She is acutely aware that 40% of Zambian children
under the age of five years are affected by stunting,
15% are underweight and 6% are affected by
wasting caused by nutritional deficiencies. As
women are largely responsible for household
nutrition they are a primary focus for the project.
Dr Joanita Jong is the head of animal health
in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in
Timor-Leste. She is also the country coordinator
of the ‘Timor-Leste village poultry and biosecurity
project’. This project, which is funded by the
Australian Government Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade and implemented by the
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, is
adopting the same approach as that being used in
Tanzania and Zambia.
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