Monday, November 16, 2009

What it takes to be a Rice leader

by Lyn Resurreccion, Science Editor
Business Mirror, Manila, Philippines
November 15, 2009

BANGKOK—Good government policy and research. These are the main ingredients that make Thailand the world’s current top rice exporter, a Thai rice executive said.

“We have the prime minister, even our king, promoting rice. It is very important. Every government [official] is interested in rice,” Chairit Damrongkiat, deputy director general of the Rice Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, told the BusinessMirror at the sidelines of a media seminar in Bangkok conducted by Syngenta and attended by 22 journalists from Asia.

He said the king himself presides at the annual royal rice ceremony.

Damrongkiat noted that Thai farmers learn a lot on rice technology because they have experts who have doing researches in the past years.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Agricultural Research for Development in Asia and the Pacific - The Way Ahead (APAARI-GFAR-ADB)

The face-to-face meeting of the Asia Pacific region is taking place on October 30 and 31, 2009 at Bangkok’s Intercontinental hotel (Read the concept note that represents the baseline for the upcoming discussions). Some NAARAP members are invited to to the F2F meeting in Bangkok including ANGOC, SARRA and Devarao Shevaram Trust.

The joint initiative of APAARI, GFAR and ADB, building on the outcome of the recently concluded very successful regional E-Consultation (see summary), will ensure that the proposed Face-to-Face (F2F) Consultation in Bangkok, involving all relevant stakeholders would seek as to what specific changes are needed in the agricultural research, extension and education systems to render them more effective in contributing towards development processes that benefit especially the poor.

The 4 main objectives of the meeting areas follows:
  1. Examine the extent to which development demands and associated research needs identified from the regional review and E-Consultation truly capture the key regional needs for delivering greatest development impacts for the poor.
  2. Identify a set of researchable themes to address the needs of various categories of farmers, especially the smallholders and resource-poor in the medium- and long-term.
  3. Suggest policy options to complement the research efforts to synergistically address development needs.
  4. Assess whether the themes highlighted in the CGIAR Strategy document match with the aspirations of the region and suggest creation and management of linkages and synergies between the emerging aims of the CGIAR Consortium and the realities of the innovation pathways in the region.
Further information can be seen at:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Importance of Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge in Agriculture

Indigenous / Traditional knowledge is the knowledge that people in a given community have developed over time, and continue to develop. It is based on the experience, often tested over centuries of use, adapted to local culture and local environment, dynamic and changing.

Indigenous knowledge is not confined to tribal groups or the original inhabitants of an area of any country. It is not even confined to rural people rather. Any community possesses indigenous knowledge, Rural or Urban. This is also called “Local Knowledge” and “Traditional Knowledge”.

People have an intimate knowledge of many aspects of their surroundings and their daily lives. Over centuries people have learnt how to grow food and preserve and to survive in difficult environments. They know what varieties of crops to plant, when to sow and weed, which plants are poisonous, which can be used for control of diseases in plants, livestock and human beings. They know very well how to maintain the environment in harmony.

Indigenous knowledge is a valuable and sophisticated knowledge system developed over generations by local communities in various parts of the world. This knowledge is validated over time in a way that is different to the western empirical system.
Indigenous Knowledge is the basis for self-sufficiency and self-determination at least for two reasons:
A. People are familiar with indigenous practices and technologies. They can understand, handle, and maintain them better than introduced western practices and technologies.
B. Indigenous Knowledge draws on local resources. People are less dependent on outside supplies, which can be costly, scarce and unavailable regularly.
Indigenous Knowledge provides effective alternatives to western know – how. It gives local people and development workers extra options when designing projects. Instead of searching only among western technologies for feasible solutions, they can choose from indigenous knowledge or combine indigenous and western technology. Indigenous technologies and practices are often cheaper than western ones. They rely on locally available skills and materials and often require little or no cash outlay.

Agriculture in Nature

“Agriculture means the Science and Art of farming, Work of cultivating the soil, producing crops and raising the live stock.”

The Important Rules for Agriculture

1. The main source of energy for the production of carbohydrates is the sun. Maximum utilization of sun energy is most important for agricultural production.

2. It is only green plants which can use sun energy to produce carbohydrates. The degree of utilization of sun energy is dependent on the quantity of green plants.

3. The source of fertility (minerals, humus etc.) is organic matter which contains micro-organisms. A supply of organic matter is indispensable for soil improvement through fertilization (manuring).

4. Every living thing interacts and there is nothing which is unnecessary and harmful in nature. 

by Rohini Reddy, South Asia Rural Reconstruction Association (SARRA) (Excerpted from "Traditional Practices in Agriculture Sourcebook", Rohini Reddy, SARRA, India, pp. 1-3)

Friday, June 19, 2009

NAARAP Secretariat participates in the Philippine National Organic Agriculture conference

ANGOC, in behalf of the NAARAP secretariat, attended the Fifth National Organic Agriculture Conference (NOAC) in Davao City, Philippines last October 14-16, 2008, in time for the celebration of World Food Day. The Conference’s theme, “Sustaining the gains of Organic Agriculture: Enhancing Biodiversity, Providing Safe and Adequate Food”, was timely with the food and fuel crises made more turbulent by the collapse of financial market.

The Conference focused on showcasing current initiatives on organic agriculture from the Philippine government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), from the civil societies, and from the local governments. From the policymaking side, efforts are well underway, with four house bills in the Congress and another four bills from the Senate formulated to support organic farming. The bills range from eco-labeling to the establishment of bio-organic demonstration farms, the formulation of an Organic Agriculture Program, and the creation of an Organic Farming Commission, and the like.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NGOs share experiences in Agriculture Research for Development

During the Bangkok workshop on Agriculture Research for Development (ARD) last April 2008, one of the Technical Sessions focused on NGO experiences in ARD in Asia-Pacific. The session was chaired by Dr. Roel Ravanera, Dean of the Xavier University College of Agriculture in the Philippines and co-chaired by Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC in Bangladesh.

In all, the following five presentations were made:
I. Southeast Asia - Nathaniel Don Marquez, ANGOC/ Asia
II. South Asia - Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign/ India
III. PNG Women in Agriculture - Maria Linibi, Intoap Village/ Papua New Guinea
IV. Alternative Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture - Hiva Levi, PIANGO/ Fiji
V. China Association of NGOs - Huang Haoming, CANGO/ China

Don Marquez of ANGOC reiterated the need for concerted efforts to build linkages among NGOs, FO, Government, NARS and IARC to empower the farming communities. He also highlighted the areas needing priority attention as:

a) Inclusiveness and community empowerment involving area of land reforms, rights, policy research, etc.
b) Sustainable livelihoods that include microfinance and linking farmers to markets.

c) National resource management, including disaster management, responding to and mitigate climate change effects; and enhance farmer – scientist – NARS collaboration in research.

NAARAP Plans to engage ARDs at Global and Country levels

Initially, NAARAP plans to pursue the following three major interventions and link them to GFAR and APAARI processes at the national, regional and global levels:

1. To participate actively in determining the direction, content and conduct of ARD at national, regional and international levels
2. To generate, document and share knowledge, experiences, expertise, and replicate successful practices and lessons learned in engaging with ARD
3. To document the entire partnership process in ARD and to develop possible modalities to above with farmers ARD experiences in their local languages. The specific goals and objectives under each of above three interventions should be:

I. Regional NGO Priorities in ARD

NGO competencies in ARD were identified and areas where they could contribute were articulated:

Linking Small Farm Holders, NGOs, CSOs and Agri Research systems (ARS), small farm holders and other clientele groups (e.g. women, rural youth, etc.) at the national, regional and international levels

* NGOs be involved in the planning, budgeting and decision making process of ARS (National, Regional and international), to reflect needs of NGOs/CSOs and SFHs in their research plans and priorities.

* Conduct farmer-participatory research on SFHs’ technologies, backed with science and required documentation for adoption by ARS.

* Enable on farm production of inputs to facilitate adoption and replication of successful technologies by SFHs.

* Facilitate access by SFHs to information, appropriate technologies, expert data banks and ARIs.

Impact Assessment and Advocating Policy Changes

* Identify constraints to adoption and advocate policy changes needed to remove the constraints.

* Assess outcomes and impact of technologies on SFHs and document, share with key stakeholders.

Thus, the following agenda have been identified by NAARAP: i) technology development, ii) sustainable natural resource management, iii) facilitating farmers’ access to markets and other support services, and iv) agenda for overall partnership.

Monday, April 27, 2009

NGO Association for Agricultural Research formed

A new NGO consortium aiming to reorient agricultural research to more adequate respond to the needs of small farmers was formed following the Asia Pacific Regional Workshop on Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) organized jointly by ANGOC, Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) and the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) in Bangkok, Thailand last 16-18 April 2008. The NGO group is called NGO Association for Agriculture Research in Asia-Pacific, or NAARAP.

A major goal of NAARAP is to engage with APAARI, GFAR and other international and global actors to facilitate a change in the orientation of agricultural research for development (ARD), particularly by adopting a systems approach where Smallholder Farmers Organizations (SFOs) and CSOs can play integral roles in determining the direction, content and conduct of ARD. The newly formed NGO Consortium came up with a plan of action that would promote the empowerment of small farmholders and orient agricultural research systems (ARS), both at the national and international levels, towards involving them and their partner NGOs actively in all research initiatives and use the knowledge and expertise of successful farmers in each area for replication after these have been vetted scientifically.