Vision Zero Fund

Myanmar’s ginger value chain actors meet to discuss safer practices and better production

Through the support of the ILO’s Vision Zero Fund, all actors involved in Myanmar’s ginger value chain, from production to commercialization, met in Aung Ban, Shan State to discuss the way forward to promote occupational safety and health as well as to fairly maximize the benefits of the ginger business.

Article | 30 October 2017
YANGON (ILO NEWS) - After carrying out a value chain selection and assessment in Myanmar’s Shan State between August and October 2017, the Vision Zero Fund (VZF) project has identified the ginger value chain as a sector to be further assessed and supported with interventions focussed on strengthening occupational safety and health (OSH).

Ginger farmers and traders in Aung Ban, Shan State, Myanmar.
The project conducted the first Ginger Stakeholders’ Meeting in Aung Ban, Kalaw township - Shan State, on 24 October 2017, which gathered all actors involved in the ginger value chain, from production to commercialization. Input retailers, traders, processors, buyers, as well as ginger farmers from Kalaw, Pindaya, Pinlaung, Hopone, Nyangshwe and Lawksawk townships joined the event.

Additional players of the value chain, such as government stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce, and Ministry of Labour, as well as certifiers of organic and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) produces, development partners, and workers’ organizations were also present. Nearly 100 attendees participated in the Meeting, which counted with the technical support from Winrock International, VZF’s partner which provides technical support to different actors of the ginger value chain.
Participants of the Ginger Stakeholders’ Meeting, Aung Ban, October 2017
The objectives of the Ginger Stakeholders’ Meeting were to validate the results of the OSH-focused value chain assessment, and provide inputs to the design and prioritization of interventions to be carried out during the implementation of the VZF project in Myanmar (2018-2020). Discussions were framed within the vision of the industry in order to promote the identification of market-based and sustainable interventions that could contribute to better safety and health practices in the value chain. Participants learned about global trends in the ginger production, prices and different types of ginger, and the potential for value-added products based on ginger, such as ginger beer, candies or tea. The group had the chance to validate the results of the assessment in an interactive way through participatory exercises, such as group work and plenary discussions.

The ginger value chain and its actors
The main findings and suggestions stemmed from the group work included:

1. Good OSH practices in the ginger value chain increase the quality of the produce and opens up possibilities to access premium markets.

Given the business case for the promotion of premium quality ginger (residue free or organic), the VZF project supports the elimination of agrochemical hazards such as pesticides and herbicides (e.g. paraquat) among farmers that want to access premium markets.
VZF will facilitate this process by raising awareness on the risks associated to the use of agrochemicals. Value chain development efforts that connect farmers with premium buyers can translate these efforts into higher income for ginger farmers.

2. Knowledge and awareness on chemical, physical, ergonomic and other hazards in agriculture is low among ginger stakeholders 

Knowledge and awareness of OSH issues among ginger farmers is low, and is not different from other value chains in Myanmar. Working with supporting functions of the chain, particularly with the Ministry of Agriculture, and strengthening their capacity to raise awareness on OSH issues is key to reach out to all actors of the value chain. Moreover, VZF will concentrate its efforts to effectively train agrochemical retailers, as well as promote safer practices in the farms, particularly those that can benefit from obtaining the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.

3. Farmers are not organized, missing out the possibility of gaining access to a broader market and other useful information

Participants of the Ginger Stakeholders’ Meeting learning about different types of ginger
Strengthening the creation of informal farmers groups will allow VZF to embed OSH knowledge and services among farmers, who will also receive support to access broader markets thanks to Winrock International’s intervention. Internal auditing competencies that support certification process among farmers groups can facilitate the dissemination of OSH messages and healthy practices among ginger farmers.

4. Value added from ginger based products generated and distributed in Myanmar could benefit the ginger business, and create more and better jobs

With the support of VZF, current and future ginger processing facilities will benefit from OSH management systems and lean factory designs that keep workers safe and inventory undamaged, while maximizing effective production. These facilities contribute to the promotion of decent and sustainable work in the value chain, while offering more opportunities to generate value added that benefits ginger stakeholders in Myanmar.

  Lean Manufacturing Design   OSH Management Systems at workplace level 

Definition and description

 Focus on standardizing processes within workplaces to minimize waste and increase value, through continuous improvement (Kaizen philosophy). One of its foundations is the 5S approach: Sort, Set in order, Shine (clean), Standardize and Sustain. This helps organizations improve productivity, efficiency, service and safety.  OSH management systems provide a coordinated approach to managing OSH risks. They should define an OSH policy, ensure workers’ participation, and embed the need for continuous improvement and integration of OSH into the organizations’ management structures and strategies (ILO OSH Guidelines 2001)

Impact on the safety and health of workers

  • Workers’ participation in reducing workplace hazards is encouraged
  • Reducing time wasting encourages smooth and safer workplace rhythms and prevents rushes that increase risks
  • Reducing inventory and promoting tidiness and cleanliness reduces exposure to physical hazards such as blocked exit routes, flammable inventory being stored, and trip hazards.
  • Avoiding unnecessary movement and transport greatly reduces ergonomics hazards
  • Elimination of defects and over-processing prevents workers from focusing on non-standard tasks that can be more hazardous than standard ones
  • Decreased workers’ compensation premiums
  • Decreased accident rates
  • Improved employee
  • Better climate of safety and health
  • Perception of the physical and psychosocial working environment and increased hazard reporting by employees
  • Increased worker participation in safety and health activities
  • More organisational actions taken on OSH issues