Ku Ta Pu, which means ditch farming, is a new farming method practicing by local people in Mu Traw District, Karen State. This method was discovered and introduced in 2012.
Ku Ta Pu involves digging ditches in the land that are a foot deep, 20 feet long and 1.5 feet wide. In the ditches, the villagers grow their rice plants.
Other crops can be grown along the ditch as well. The villagers tested this method in 2012, and discovered that it works well and can produce adequate food for them in the future, although the rice production was not very high in the first year, because the top layer of the soil have been removed to make the ditch, meaning that the soil in the ditch was new and did not contain an adequate amount of organic matter.
This farming style will help villagers farm in only one place, meaning they do not need to clear different patches of forest for rotational farming anymore. In a rotational farming system, the farm is usually on the hillside. During rainy season, the organic matter in the soil is usually washed away by rain water. Therefore, farmers can’t grow plants for in the same farm for two years in a row. They have to find or clear another area for the next season, and repeat the process until the first farm becomes fertile and ready for farming again.
However, with this new farming method, the ditch will stop organic matter from washing away because of the rain. When the rain comes, the organic matter will not run off with the rain water, but remain in the ditch. Therefore, the farm will never lose its fertility, and it can be used year after year.
Every year, because of the changes in the climate and the loss of forests, villagers find it difficult to maintain their livelihoods, especially livelihoods based on agriculture. This new farming method is adapted to the current situation, and therefore could be the best choice for villagers.