"Loving the Earth" begins with Soil for Non-Toxic Farming the Ling Jiou Mountain Way


‘Loving the Earth’ demands action beyond slogans and thrives on international cooperation and exchange of experience. The Government of Myanmar has been cooperating with the Italian not-for-profit quango Istituto Oikos on a master management plan for the Lampi National Marine Park. The project has succeeded in protecting the natural ecology while improving the livelihood of local residents thanks to its friendly tactics of communications over time. On the other hand, the Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) bio-farm at Naung Mon has delivered a successful model for non-toxic farming and made a donation of 2 metric tons of microbial fertilizers to the Northern Shan State to manifest the ‘Loving the Earth’ ideal in words and in deeds. When such comparable campaigns keep mushrooming in different parts of the world with people working hand in hand across borders, the Earth will have a better tomorrow with certainty.

Conservation of Marine Ecology to curb excessive Fishing  
Situated at the southernmost of Myanmar, the Lampi Marine National Park of Ecology consists of 20 islands, where migrants live amongst the indigenous Moken people. As Lampi is a protected habitat for a diversity of more than 50 species of land and sea creatures, it was declared a national park of ecology as early as in 1996. But local people had adopted excessive fishing to the extent that extinction of marine produce became a tangible crisis, prompting the Ministry of Forestry of Myanmar to cooperate with the Italian quango Istituto Oikos on a master management plan for the Lampi project.

Project Manager of the Lampi Marine National Park project, Elisa, believes that turning local stakeholders to special interest parties was critical in winning over their support. A master management plan, according to Elisa, would only be realistically deliverable when it is based on intelligence gathered from local residents by listening to them carefully to understand their culture. Both sides learned how to grow and develop and the indigenous Mokens eventually adopted lifestyle changes.

The project team employed communications and education to illustrate to local residents what would happen if excessive fishing were to continue. They also provided coaching and training aid for eco-tourism highlighting fish farms. Local participants benefited from their involvement and trust with the project team grew, as were their willingness and readiness to comply. Elisa pointed out that it is essential to secure understanding on the part of the locals, and full empowerment equipped local participants with a strong sense of ownership so that they would want to do more for their Lampi Marine National Park. The process of implementing the project, however, was not without challenges. Some stakeholders, for instance, were too dominant to listen to opinions other than their own. When more and more people became involved, the decision process only got increasingly complicated. 

Toxic-free Farming at Naung Mon: A Success Story & A Win
While Lampi Park is in the south of Myanmar,  we have a corresponding success story for international environment protection with the LJM eco-farm at Naung Mon in northern Myanmar. As early as in 2005 when Dharma Master Hsin Tao first decided to start farming in Naung Mon, chemical fertilizers and pesticides were rejected. Farm crops grew naturally in the field unweeded.

Master Chang Le of the LJM Buddhist Society who manages the eco-farm recounted the development of the LJM Farm at Naung Mon as toxic-free with no negative impact on ecology, citing examples of taking out the pest, restoring the soil’s fertility, and the use of microbial fertilizers. Lemongrass was planted for harvesting and the fragrance is a natural repellent. And the farm produces its own supply of microbial fertilizers.

Master Chang Le offered examples to explain about the plus points of using microbial fertilizers in an analogy with us taking probiotics to help with the digestive systems. An import of new know-how from Taiwan, the microbial fertilizers contain 8 types of bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis and Trichoderma harzianum that work well for soil improvement in the space of strengthened resilience and immunity while contributing to the reduction of pest damage.

In 2018 the Naung Mon Eco-Farm began to show a growing diversity of inhabitants including red dragonflies, frogs, horsehair crabs, and wild bees, with eagles soaring over the mountain tops at dusk. All these are signs pointing to an ecosystem closing in on driving full circle. Once a full-fledged eco-chain emerges, bio colonies feed into one another to strike a natural balance that removes the need to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides harmful to the land, animals, and people.

The LJM Eco-Farm at Naung Mon has established itself as a teaching site for toxic-free farming for experience sharing via visitations and has received formal recognition by ranking government officials of Myanmar. A case in point follows.
His Excellency Linn Htut, Governor of the Shan State, was a guest of honor at the opening ritual for the Sitting Buddha of the LJM Maha Kusala Yama Monastery in Naung Mon on December 4, 2019. The governor also went on a guided tour at the eco-farm to take in a brief by Master Chang Le. Of the many accomplishments of the eco-farm, its function in offering hands-on demo sessions to help local farmers is particularly meaningful. A donation of 2 metric tons of microbial fertilizers was made on the occasion of His Excellency’s visit to benefit other Shan State regions beyond Lashio as a manifestation of the ‘Loving the Earth, Loving Peace’ ideal both in words and in deeds. 

Interactions exercising mutual impact is a constant in an ecological environment, which is why Venerable Master Hsin Tao always emphasizes a diversified symbiosis and an interdependent coexistence as a core essential to the ethics of ecology. Discussions of ecological issues necessarily involve both spirituality and material matters, as in the case of special interest group communications without ignoring their standpoint nor overlooking the economic benefit that ensues. Toxic-free farming at the Naung Mon Eco-Farm was borne out of love and care for the land, with which spiritual strengths the toils yield positive merits to change material matters in the environment. That in sum is the original intent that propels Dharma Master Hsin Tao forward without failing in the mission of creating the future University for Life and Peace.

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