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.
Dr Suman Sahai, representing Gene Campaign, elucidated several activities that have been or are being undertaken and future issues likely to be taken up by her organization in the regional context. These were:
a) Field research: Natural resource management and sustainable agriculture, document and disseminate under-utilized species; bio-resource based income generation; documenting ITK, training and capacity building.
b) Policy research and advocacy: Issues related to WTO, WIPO, ITP GARA, CBD;
c) Future issues: Approaches to cope with and mitigate effects of climate change and issues related to biofuels.
Ms. Maria Linibi made a presentation on PNG women in Agriculture (PNGWiA) as a forum to address the concerns and issues of women, youth and other disadvantaged groups in agriculture. The PNGWiA envisions to promote equal participation of women in agriculture and strives to deliver benefits to members, promote and support member activities and advocate gender diversity. PNGWiA is involved with PNG-NARI in collaborative research, technology transfer, field days, etc. The programs are being actively supported by ACIAR, NZAid, NARI, FAO, ADB, SPC and World Vision.
Mr. Hiva Levi, representing PIANGO made a presentation on alternative pathways to sustainable agriculture. It was mentioned that the SPC countries are moving away from chemical agriculture to organic farming by using traditional knowledge and methods, wherein national associations have been formed to promote organic agriculture being more beneficial in the long run. The forum facilitated national action plan for members, and mobilized resources to undertake planned activities with an ultimate goal to enhance both the income and livelihood opportunities for small farmers. He stressed the need for establishing quality testing system to meet international standards and favoured organic farming for long term sustainability and overall prosperity for the farmers in the Pacific
Mr. Huang Haoming, on behalf of CANGO presented details of the NGO consortium in China. He informed that there are about 380,000 NGOs (207,000 social organizations, 172,000 private enterprises and 1,370 foundations) and more than 148,000 farmer cooperatives in China. Some of the NGOs are involved in extension, but it is mostly done by NARS. In some provinces (such as Hubei), agricultural extension has become non-enterprise cooperative involving NARI, NGO and farmer organizations. In future, CANCO plans promotion of functional linkages amongst NARS-NGO-Farmers; establish networking between NARI and NGOs; support NGO development in rural areas and expand personnel exchange between NARS and NGO.