Three-year period had swiftly passed. Much had been talked about agriculture when I met with my younger brother, some three years ago, being those who eke out our living by agricultural farming. During our conversation I said to him that I did grow mango trees, “Sein-ta-lone,” since 3 years ago whereas my brother told me he was preparing to grow sterculia tree. Last month he called me to come to visit his plantation, saying that he was beginning to extract resins from sterculia tree stems.
To put it simply, I listened to him with surprise, albeit reluctantly to believe as to whether resin can be extracted from sterculia plant in 3 years. Instead, I happened to visit him with a view to performing 3 purposes in one time—paying a visit, paying a study tour and acknowledging his triumph.
Just prior to writing this, I felt that my present writing would be like following suit as sterculia tree plantation is these days very popular, or otherwise it would be tantamount to giving excessive encouragement to those desirous of growing sterculia plants. But, at last I decided to recount my personal experiences I myself witnessed in jute plantation, together with my study knowledge acquired at the vineyard plantation industries in Ywa-tan village, Yamethin Township some two years ago.
Suitability is needed in soil and climate with kind to be planted
Almost every house in Ywa-tan village did viniculture on their farming land as their own business, selling their agricultural produce for sale in local markets and for export. There, we found they could manage to support their families by growing grapevine. That means, it would be of great benefit to grow vine, perennial plant suitable with soil and climate of the region in substitution for rain-fed crops. Seasonal crops frequently lose potential benefits, due to climate change, market instability and rises in costs and expenditures. For saying so, I never mean it that farmers must hold an extreme idea of planting one kind only. For those who are satisfied with the idea that it is good enough just to have cows’ feed at the end of the season, I hereby want to give some advices, to grow other crops that will be suitable for their region in substitution.
Nothing venture, nothing have
Upon arrival at the village, I went straight to my brother’s plantation. There I found some workers collecting resin from sterculia plants’ stems holding steel trays in their hands, with some holding knives in hands. Plants had been grown with 15 feet each far from another plant but upper branches are touching with each other. The girth of a stem is estimated at 9 inches or so. Resins are collected by notching stems. On seeing notches, resins have not been collected yet I found high-quality resins oozing out. While workers are busying themselves with collecting resins I had a chance to enquire about my brother’s preparation for making this plantation.
According to him, there are over 20000 sterculia plants grown in his plantation farm. Ploughs and furrows were made about the whole land. Without digging up any holes on the land, plants had been grown along the tracks of ploughs and furrows. At the time when weeds need removing, they had been weeded while doing ploughs by tractors. Pesticides and fertilizers had never been sprayed on his farm. But, this year a little bit of urea had been put because they had tried extracting resins for the first time in the rainy season, it was said. It seemed to be easy as per his explanation. Whatever it is, I had to accept the idea that we would reach the goal ultimately, if we really started our first step.
Purification and classification
After leaving the plantation, we entered the shed where resins were purified. Workers were found removing dirt from resins in trays and thence classifying the purified resins and then resins were left under shade to become cool. When surfaces of resins became hardened, they were left to be dried up in the sun. After that, the hard resins had been piled up in the office according to their classification. According to my brother, special price for the special quality was estimated at over Ks one lakh per viss, with the regular price was round about one lakh paid. But, prices were less paid than the normal prices, once a year at least, it was said.
Once in the past being in the dilemma of success
While taking tea in the office, we had a chat one thing and another. I came to know that workers were from Ayardaw Township, coming here in families. As long as the industry had existed to run, they said they would work here because they were paid one third of the production as wages depending upon the amounts of the plants. If the plants amounted to less, they had to be paid half of the products. Workers tried their best not to have wastage, as they were paid depending upon the amounts of products.
I made a suggestion to expand the business as it has great prospects under the current situations, he replied to do so. He said he had a dilemma of the success at the very advent of the business, feeling fear whether he would be in for difficulties and troubles. I gave him words of encouragement not to bear such feelings, as promising signs are being seen at present. Despite the encouragement to him, I myself felt depressed, as suffered by the perennial plant growers.
A period we will have yet to undergo
At the invitation of my brother, I arrived there to study his sterculia tree plantation, encouraging and simultaneously aspiring to emulate him. I witnessed successful production of resin in three years, before my eyes. And, I came to know that it could manage to recover the expenses in one year.
A thought “In case I had grown sterculia plant for mango trees,” occurred to me. But, I am well convinced that we need to make the rightful choice, that is, to grow the plants suitable with the regional situations
I humbly made suggestions for our farmers to be able to take into consideration of growing sterculia plants so as to overcome difficulties of climate changes and huge expenses and for long-term benefits.
Translated by Khin Maung Oo