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    Entries in fas (4)


    U Ngwe Aung's Myanmar Landscapes

    U Ngwe Aung is a prominent Burmese artist who’s donated seven landscapes to Proximity’s Crowdrise fundraiser. To learn more about his work (and learn how to get a hold of one of the paintings), read below:

    “Painting is in my nature,” U Ngwe Aung says in between a smile and a chuckle, “when I was in grade five or six, I didn’t pay attention in class. I would see an image in my reference books, and I would just start sketching it out.” More than forty years of dedication has brought U Ngwe Aung a long way from copying textbooks. Nowadays, his enrapturing landscapes of Myanmar’s Shan State leap from the canvas, literally.  The vibrant colors he uses are inspired by the deep, rich red soils of the region, which the artist then treats so that hues intermingle, crack and meld into one another to produce richly textured pieces that delight from up close and afar.

    Nowadays, U Ngwe Aung has a busy schedule of upcoming exhibits both in Myanmar and abroad, but he had his start at the local Bogyoke Market, where reproductions of pagodas and monks are a dime a dozen and sold to tourists for pennies. U Ngwe Aung claims that what he did back then wasn’t “art,” and proceeds to poke fun at his old “copy-paste” style. “You copy what you see and you paste it on the canvas,” he explains with a good-natured chuckle. It was all about the market, about what customers wanted to buy.

    It’s certainly ironic that he’s experienced much greater success once he moved past such considerations. His works are now valued at $2,000 and above, and they're often exhibited at River Gallery, among others. Nowadays, U Ngwe Aung is much more concerned with the process of creation than with the act of painting on its own. With these landscapes, he tells us he feels for the first time free to innovate, to join the picturesque with the playful, the insane, and the surreal.

    When asked why he was so willing to donate his time and art to Proximity’s efforts to broaden on-the-ground support for rural farmers, he tells us: “For me, giving is more about the receiver. As long as there is someone who is in need and sees value in what I am doing, then I will give.” What’s more, he adds, his own father was a farmer in Myanmar’s Delta region and struggled to send his son to art school in the capital. Especially when it comes to Myanmar, “most of our parents were farmers at one point,” U Ngwe Aung explains. At Proximity, we’re humbled by U Ngwe Aung’s generosity, and are excited to share his creations with the broader global community  (cough, cough, you). 

    To take a closer look at the seven paintings donated by U Ngwe Aung, check out this gallery we've created


    The Simplest thing farmers in Myanmar can do to increase their incomes


    Our Farm Advisory Services techniques are all about simplicity. We've purposefully searched and selected climate-smart farming techniques that will not cost farmers a significant amount to implement, and that are easy to understand, explain and re-create.

    Take, for example, Salt Water Seed Selection. All farmers need to do is mix water and salt. At what ratio? The water should be salty enough that an egg can float in it. Then, farmers can dump in all of their rice seed. Bad seed floats, good seed sinks. By only planting good seeds, farmers significantly boost their yields by 10-15 baskets per Myanmar acre, which in turn improves their incomes. 

    U Chit Oo, a farmer form Yae Kyaw Gyi Village in the Myanmar Delta, believes that salt water seed selection was the main thing that helped his harvest go from 90 baskets per Myanmar acre to 144 baskets the next year. He tells us, 

    "I met the FAS team too late. If I had met them two years earlier, my business would be a lot better, and I’d be living in a big brick house.”

    We're currently raising money to expand the reach of our FAS services throughout Myanmar. With your help, other farmers won't have to wait to access climate-smart farming knowledge. 


    1000 Words: Spotted in the Ayeryarwady Division

    While their parents attended a workshop led by Proximity Farm Advisory Services, these children played outside, every now and then peeking in. Check back next week to learn more about how climate change is affecting farmers in Myanmar's lower Delta region, and what they can do to mitigate some of these changes. 


    How about a little competition?


    A few weeks back, Proximity's Farm Advisory Services team visited Aung Thu Kha village in Maw Kyun, in the Ayeyarwady Delta to meet new farmers and introduce farming techniques like saltwater seed selection and green manure. Word had somehow got out across the village tract that the team were coming to hand out free fertilizers, seeds and pesticides instead though and, when the team arrived, there were many more people to meet them than they had anticipated.

    Eventually, the farmers realized that FAS only gave advice but, far from being disappointed, they all stayed anyway to listen. One of the listeners was Ko Kyaw Moe Win, who had come in place of his father, U Win Maung. When he arrived home, his father eagerly asked what inputs he brought back with him. His son replied that he had brought back something even more valuable than free seeds: he had brought back new farming knowledge.

    The father lashed out at his son, saying they already have knowledge gained from generations of farming, and that what they needed were the expensive inputs. Confident in the value of what he had heard, the son proposed a deal: a competition to see whose farming techniques work better. Ko Kyaw Moe Win used salt water seed selection on 4 acres of land, and the father used traditional methods on 6 acres. After only 35-40 days, there was already a huge difference between their fields, and the father knew he was losing. When the FAS team came for their usual follow up, U Win Maung apologized to the team saying he should have listened to their advice and that he is grateful for it. He told them that next season he will begin using salt water seed selection on his acres too.