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P K Viswanathan - Reflection on Key Points from Day 1 and some pointers for Discussion

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P K Viswanathan - Reflection on Key Points from Day 1 and some pointers for Discussion

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P K Viswanathan - Reflection on Key Points from Day 1 and some pointers for Discussion

  1. 1. Reflection on Key Points from Day 1 and some pointers for Discussion Dr P.K. Viswanathan Prof. (Eco. & Sustainability), Amrita School of Business, Kochi, India (pkviswam@gmail.com) Dr. Shweta Sinha Lecturer, Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand (shweta.s@pbic.tu.ac.th)
  2. 2. Reflections of Day 1: Recap • In his Welcome address and Opening Remarks, Dr. Eden Y. Woon, President, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) reiterated that in the context of heightened debate on climate change impacts and the Paris Agreement (2015) with stated policy on food security within the ASEAN region in particular, the relevance of SRI become critical in meeting the SDGs, as rice continues to the one of the major triggers of agricultural growth in the economies of the region • While challenges confronting NRM as well as sustainable livelihoods of the communities assume prime place in the development discourse of the region, it is all the more critical that institutions of higher learning, R&D and policy advocacy, such as the AIT, EU, FAO come together and work towards scaling up of the SRI in the Asian region involving multiple stakeholders, including the farming communities, the state, the students and other actors..
  3. 3. Recap – Technical Session 1 • Appreciating the role of EU in fostering development in the region and thereby breaking the notions of North-South divide, Mr. Jerome Pons, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Thailand has set the background for the 2 day Regional Workshop on SRI • Mr Pons reiterated that SDGs become a matter of high priority for EU for the next 10 years, working in 60 different countries, including the south and SE Asia, where the initiatives such as SRI have immense potential and scope for becoming an integral aspect of conservation agriculture (CA) fostering food security and sustainable livelihoods.. • Dr Abha Mishra, Director ACISAI and Team Leader SRI-LMB had presented a brief overview of the planning of the workshop and its purpose to discuss on the important pathways and achievements made under the SRI project during the course of its implementation (2014-2018) • In the Keynote address Dr. Amir Kassam, Visiting Professor, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development University of Reading, UK, and Moderator of the FAO-hosted Global Platform for Conservation Agriculture Community of Practice, has highlighted the need for a well articulated integration of SRI with Conservation Agriculture, which is globally accepted as an integral aspect of climate-smart/ climate resilient agriculture
  4. 4. • Technical session 1 started with a comprehensive presentation by Dr Abha Mishra, on the processes, and key learnings of the outcomes of the project, which, made commendable progress with modest achievements in the key performance indicators of SRI, measured in terms of economic, social and environmental impacts • In his presentation, Dr. C. M. Wijayaratna, Independent Consultant, Agriculture Strategy Specialist, New Zealand, appreciated the successful outcomes of the project as implemented in the four countries. It was highlighted that the project had immense benefits as the farming communities adopting had also developed a sense of ownership of the project. • Sharing the rich experience of working on SRI along with Prof Norman Uphoff in India and Sri Lanka, Dr Wijayaratna described the strategies to keep pace with the momentum of the SRI-LMB project in its second phase of implementation. • Dr. Wijayaratna Highlighted the imperative for collective action as a driving force for scaling up of SRI involving all its components, such as production planning, input-output services, along with emphasizing the need for ensuring quality of food and market promotion of the SRI. A critical aspect of collective action should be to ensure that the SRI programme in its next stage should attracting the women and youth as the key stakeholders in implementation of the project. Recap – Technical Session 1 (contd..)
  5. 5. • The presentations in the afternoon were distinct in terms of sharing the key findings and recommendations as emerged from the four country studies, viz., Cambodia, Laos PDR, Vietnam and Thailand, besides presentations based on the work in Malaysia and Australia. Quite interestingly, the country case studies included presentations by the respective SRI project co- ordinators as well as SRI Farmers in the native languages as well as English and in the order of presentation, they included the presentations by: • Ms. Sopheavy Ty (Oxfam America) on Cambodia, Dr. Anizan Isahak, President SRI, Mas, Malaysian Agro-ecology; • Mr. Kong Kea, Country Coordinator, SRI-LMB Project, Cambodia; • Mr. Thongsavanh Phathalavong, Deputy Director General, Mr. Viengxay Photakounon Laos PDR; • Ngin Chhay, Director General, Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Lao PDR; • Dr. Nguyen Quy Duong, Vice Director General, Plant Protection Department (PPD) Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam; • Mr. Do Hong Khanh, National IPM Coordinator, PPD, MARD, Vietnam; Recap – Technical Session 1 (contd..)
  6. 6. • Ms. Wirawan Thancharoen ; Smart and SRI-LMB Project Farmer; SRI-LMB Project Far; VTDC Center, Uttaradit, Thailand; • Mr. Phayat Seetha; Smart and SRI-LMB Project Farmer; Key farmer on organic and integrated farming; VTDC Center, Uttaradit, Thailand; • Mrs. Rungnapa Choocherd; NFE Volunteer Teacher; Provincial Office of the Non-Formal and Infromal Education, Surin, Thailand; • Mrs Rumpoeng Sorathaworn; graduate of Charles Sturt University, N.S.W., Australia, Smart & SRI farmer, Member of Moon River Agricultural Networking group; • Ms. Yaowalux Kulto; Subject Matter Specialist, Head of Seed Development Group, Sisaket Seed Center, Rice Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives; • Mrs. Yuphaphin Siyongyod, President- Big plot farming group, Organic rice cultivation group, Learning center on agricultural value addition and Village Head, Uthumporn Phisai district, Sisaket • The reporting of the studies followed a pattern in terms of narrating the empirical approaches and methodologies adopted in undertaking the studies, the important outcomes, key learnings, challenges or constraints faced in the process of adoption, recommendations as well as strategies to be adopted in extending the project in its second stage Recap – Technical Session 1 (contd..)
  7. 7. • Following the country presentations, Dr Abha Mishra circulated a questionnaire, intended to capture the learnings of the participants from the discussions of the project as well as their preferences for prioritizing the future activities of the project • The feedback received from the participants are intended to inform the directions on the future course of action on the project • Dr Amir Kasam made a wonderful wrapping up of the day 1 proceedings. In his wrapping up session, Dr Kasam appreciated the interest shown by the AIT President in supporting the SRI project and extending his wholehearted support for extending the project to the next stage. Dr Kasam highlighted the point that the SRI-LMB project initiated by the AIT with support from the EU, FAO, the country governments and other agencies have laid down a solid foundation for the entire region to adopt it and scale up • At the same time, he cautioned that the SRI as it was adopted in the region should not be seen as an end in itself. More concerted efforts are required to take the SRI forward to broaden its scope from a mere cropping practice to a system of agriculture that addresses the larger and much pressing concerns of sustainable agriculture development in the region in particular • SRI as a system of agriculture should be taken to the next level of its expansion, by which the SRI should be made as an integral aspect of conservation agriculture in order to address the problems of land degradation, loss of soil fertility, empowerment of women, increased youth participation through in the programme and mobilization of the communities for collective action leading to economic and social development and welfare • In this regard, I endorse an important point made by Dr Kasam that: ‘getting youth to agriculture as professional managers of the resources of production (ie., land, water and capital equipments involved in farm production) that are integral for sustainable agriculture development in the region in particular. Reflection on Key points
  8. 8. • Yet another important point that came up in the wrapping up session by Dr Kasam was the contradiction seen in the scaling up of SRI in the economies of the region, as emerge from the country presentations. He raised an important question that: “Even when the results and impacts of SRI as revealed by the country studies show strong positive benefits, the country governments tend to show no positive response in terms of creating avenues for the wider promotion and adoption of SRI practices” • To my mind, this point needs much more elaboration in the discussions and a deeper understanding as regards the real constraints and challenges that come up in the way of state promoting the SRI in the countries in the region. • At the same time, he also cautions that the observed impacts of SRI in the countries in the region should not make us complacent, as the current rice yield levels reported in the SRI farms (ie., 3500-4500 kg/ha) are much lower than the rice yields reported from the conventional rice farms in countries such as Egypt or China • According to him, the recent shift in policy of rice cultivation in Thailand is a matter of concern, where the cultivation of rice area is being curtailed in the context of continued surplus production of rice. The policy shift, which seems to promote monoculture of commercial crops, such as maize may turn out to be environmentally unsustainable and hence, such policies need a critical examination in the merging context. Such policies go against the interests of harnessing the environment and natural resources in the wake of increasing climate change induced extreme events. Reflection on Key points: Pointers for discussion
  9. 9. • An important point emerge from the country presentations (ie., Vietnam for instance) that severe weather conditions, such as flooding, droughts, pests/diseases are adversely impacting the SRI performance • These findings are needing a thorough probing with respect to mapping of the climatic stress related extreme events and pest/ disease incidence in the SRI farms • The question: Do we have data to support the above arguments? Have we collected data on the local farm level climatic stress related data, viz., rainfall (days & quantity), temperature, pests/ disease occurrence, flood and drought events, etc? • If available, these data need to be analysed to confirm the above observations • Marketing and value addition issues being highlighted in many studies. Do we have data/ information on the extent of value addition and diversification already happening in the SRI adopted regions. Can we think of promoting SRI farm products (rice mostly) under the OTOP system? • Branding cum certification of SRI farm products may be an important point for discussion in the context of exploring the value addition potential of the products Reflection on Key points: Pointers for discussion
  10. 10. • Broadening the scope of SRI from an integrated cropping/ farming system perspective (sustainable farming system approach) • Consolidating data/ evidences with regard to the existing SRI practices from a cropping/ integrated farming system perspective (integration of crop-livelihood systems) • Mapping the eco-system benefits of SRI: do we have some evidences in this direction as emerge from the country studies? • Networking between the state agencies/ Agri. Extension departments/ Agriculture Universities for scaling up of the adoption of SRI (are we aiming too high?): quite an important step from the perspective of agriculture development in the region • Investing for future expansion of SRI: Can the global climate change support initiatives in the form of Climate Fund, be made use of, for further expansion and scaling up of SRI in the region (SRI helping in terms of carbon sequestration, reduction in GHGs, etc)? Reflection on Key points: Pointers for discussion
  11. 11. Thank You All