On This Day

The Day a US Missionary Was Honored for His Contribution to Myanmar’s Farming

By Wei Yan Aung 28 December 2020

YANGON—On this day in 1935, US missionary Brayton Clarke Case, the founder of the first agricultural school in Myanmar, was awarded the Kaiser in Hind (K.I.H) silver medal, an award given by the British government to those who distinguish themselves through important and useful service in the advancement of public interests.

Upon reaching the stage in Mandalay Palace to receive the medal, Case, who was commonly known as Bo Cake among Burmese people, spoke of Adeniran Judson, an American missionary who first introduced Christianity in Myanmar, and William Henry Roberts, another American Baptist minister who worked for many years as a missionary in northern Myanmar.

He was awarded the medal for his practical contributions to farming, and took pride in being honored by the government as a farmer. He imported and distributed cowpea, swine, chicken and corn, which were named after him. They were famous in Myanmar’s agricultural industry, and cowpea is still widely called Bo Cake pea in the country today.

Case was born to Baptist missionary parents in 1887 in Yangon (then Rangoon), and did a postgraduate degree in agriculture at California University. He established an agricultural school in Pyinmana in 1923, disseminating agricultural and livestock breeding knowledge to local farmers and trainees from around the country.

He taught modern animal and crop husbandry methods, how to use modern farming equipment, and farmland governance as well as carpentry and blacksmith. The Institute of Agricultural Science in Pyinmana today is the successor to Case’s agricultural school.

Burmese people affectionately address Case, who could not only speak Burmese fluently but could sing and compose Burmese songs, as Bo Cake, and Christian communities dubbed him the “farmer missionary”.

Case served in the US military during World War II. He died in 1942 at the age of 55 when the boat in which he was traveling across Indawgyi Lake—the biggest natural lake in Myanmar, in Kachin State’s Mohnyin—capsized as he was traveling to buy paddy seeds.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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