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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Tolentino

Burmese Farmers Learn How to Make Compost Online

Bokashi compost produced by participants is being utilized in plant cultivation. The nutrient-rich Bokashi compost enhances soil fertility, promotes plant growth, and contributes to a healthier and more sustainable garden or farm. Photo courtesy of CPM.

Every day, we prepare meals and end up with kitchen waste, but do you know what happens to it once we throw it out?

In Myanmar, roughly 73% of the waste generated is organic. Organic waste forms the largest component of all disposed waste across Myanmar, not only in large urban areas but also in small cities. While some kinds of waste can be recycled, reused, or transformed into different types of usable materials, a large amount of kitchen waste often gets left to decompose in landfills.

Over time, the waste will begin to release potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) into our atmosphere, contributing to climate change. More often than not, waste never reaches landfills because of the severely challenged waste management systems in Myanmar. This leads to households burning waste openly, emitting more toxins and pollutants than if they were left in landfills.

Disposing of waste through landfills and open burning are the most common form of waste management in Myanmar. Photo courtesy of CPM.

Organic kitchen waste such as vegetable peels, leftover food, and eggshells are actually rich in nutrients that we can use to fertilize our plants. With a little handiwork, what has long been considered a nuisance can be transformed into valuable compost. This not only helps reduce the amount of waste going into landfills and incinerators but also provides a sustainable source of fertilizer.

To tackle these challenges, the hopeful youth-led Compost Point Myanmar (CPM) is promoting circular agriculture across the country through the composting of kitchen waste. Circular agriculture involves adopting practices that effectively minimize waste, recycle nutrients, and reduce environmental impact. Recognizing its potential, CPM has placed it at the forefront of their mission to transform the traditional linear model of agriculture.

In 2022, Eco-hero Shine Htet Aung and his team participated in the Circular Agriculture and Innovation Challenge organized by #EWCInnovationFellows, in partnership with the East-West Center and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). Challenged to design an innovation that can advance Southeast Asia’s transition to circular agriculture, the team came up with CPM and they were awarded 1st prize, which allowed them to bring their project to life.

The buzz on Bokashi

CPM organizes training programs and workshops for locals on composting and circular agriculture. They primarily teach Bokashi composting techniques, which originated in Japan but have gained worldwide prominence for being efficient yet easy to follow.

Unlike conventional composting practices which rely on the aerobic decomposition of organic waste by bacteria, fungi, and earthworms, Bokashi composting makes use of anaerobic fermentation with the help of a specialized Bokashi bran that contains effective microorganisms (EMs), a mixture of beneficial microorganisms that accelerate the fermentation and breakdown of organic matter.

Eco-hero Shine Htet Aung co-founded Compost Point Myanmar (CPM) with his teammates at the 2022 Circular Agriculture and Innovation Challenge. Photo courtesy of CPM.

CPM hosts regular Bokashi Composting Online Training Programs that go beyond the basic “how to”. While they do provide guidance and step-by-step instructions to enable participants to apply bokashi composting techniques in their own farms or gardens, CPM also takes the opportunity to raise awareness of the principles of the circular economy and the importance of sustainable waste management practices.

Although inorganic fertilizers have allowed Burmese farmers to become more productive, runoff from these fertilizers can have serious ecological consequences, exacerbated by the lack of specialized training on farming techniques (Rampalli, 2018). In addition to this, disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic have made it difficult for local farmers to access these fertilizers, hindering their productivity (IFPRI, 2021).

CPM’s Bokashi Composting Online Training Program provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to bokashi composting techniques. Photo courtesy of CPM.

After completing the training, participants can lower their reliance on chemical fertilizers, mitigate their emissions, and live healthier and more sustainable lives.

Participants start their first projects at home by collecting kitchen scraps, leftover food, and plant material waste from their homes or local markets, monasteries, or restaurants. Waste collection isn’t only a means to gather materials, but it is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and sustainable waste management practices.

The next step is to place the collected waste in airtight containers with EMs, which play a vital role in the bokashi composting process. After leaving the compost to ferment over several days, the compost should be ready for application in your gardens.

If participants encounter any issues with making their first bokashi compost, CPM volunteers are only one call away. To enable participants to kickstart their composting journey with ease, CPM also provides Bokashi Powder Packs containing EMs. Upon the successful completion of the training program, alumni receive a supply of bokashi powder from CPM as an incentive to continue actively living out what they’ve learned. CPM also keeps in touch with participants, especially local farmers, to ensure their continued support and active participation in compost production and distribution.

Post-training success

So far, trainees have expressed nothing but satisfaction and appreciation for the knowledge and skills they have acquired with CPM’s help. One of the program’s most significant outcomes is that some of its alumni have begun making Bokashi even for their own plants, demonstrating the practical and everyday application of CPM’s training. These participants are able to actively support sustainable agricultural techniques by making their own Bokashi, which also reduces their reliance on harmful chemical fertilizers. CPM takes pride in observing the self-sufficiency of their trainees and the noticeable differences they are making in their own farms and gardens.

When asked what the youth can do to support them, CPM co-founder Shine had this to say: “We not only provide training programs but also engage volunteers to contribute to our projects in various [activities], including content writing and graphic design.”

Interested in helping out? Stay tuned to their social media page at

CPM provides Bokashi Powder Packs to participants, offering a convenient and ready-to-use solution for bokashi composting. These packs contain a blend of beneficial microorganisms and organic materials that accelerate the composting process. Photo courtesy of CPM.

A strategy for organizational sustainability

As a youth-led organization, CPM faces several challenges in fulfilling its mission and supporting farmers with their Bokashi Powder Packs.

First, a lack of funding has made it difficult for the organization to expand their reach and connect with more farmers, preventing the widespread adoption of bokashi composting. One of the ways CPM is dealing with this is by selling its Bokashi Powder Packs. This not only makes a valuable product more accessible to the community but also creates an additional stream of income for the organization.

In addition to financial constraints, CPM also faces challenges in implementing its on-the-ground initiatives due to Myanmar’s political and social landscape, which gives rise to obstacles and uncertainties that hinder the organization from progressing. Another challenge lies in the provision of technical support for participants during the online training program. Some individuals may lack access to the technology or internet connectivity required to participate in CPM’s training sessions, making it difficult for trainees to fully engage with the online training materials and resources.

To tackle these challenges, CPM is looking for ways to provide comprehensive technical support to its trainees. They are also eager to hear feedback from their participants and are continuously working on ways to deliver their training program face-to-face and engage participants in a more hands-on manner.

Despite these challenges, Shine remains hopeful about our region’s future in circular agriculture.

“If each individual adopts good habits, such as waste recycling [and] composting, and practices like carpooling by utilizing public transportation to reduce carbon emissions, even the smallest change can contribute to mitigating global warming and creating a cleaner, [more] refreshing environment,” says Shine.

This article originally appeared on EcoCupid at, with slight adaptations for the YEP Academy. To see the original article, please visit


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