PAST ACTIVITIES
 
    National Inception and Planning Workshop in Lao PDR (16-17 June 2014)

A National Inception and Planning Workshop in Lao PDR was organized by the Department of Agriculture Extension and Cooperative (DAEC) with assistance from the FAO Country IPM Program from 16-17 June 2014 at Napakuang Resort, Thalad, Vientiane Province. It involved government organizations, project partners FAO and Oxfam, relevant ministries, NGOs, farmers, and think tank along with AIT, the project lead. The purpose of this workshop was to ensure wider national consultation on the objectives and activities of the project prior to implementation of activities in three selected provinces of Lao PDR namely Vientiane province, Khammouan and Savannakhet (1 Upland and 2 Lowland provinces). In each Province, 3 Districts will be selected with rainfed rice-based farming systems (Vientiane P: Kasy, Vangvieng, Feuang, Khammouan P.: Nakay, Mahaxay, Yommalath, Savannakhet P.: Champhone, Songkhone and Xaybouly).

The main objectives of this Workshop were a) to inform the wider national level audience on the project, its goal, objective and activities; b) to revisit the project definition, goals, overall work plan; c) to provide inputs for drafting of the country strategy paper; d) to formulate country specific log-frames, responsibility of each stakeholder and bud-gets; and e) to form National Steering Committees.

The Workshop was co-chaired by Dr. Somnuck Thirasack, Deputy Director General of the Department of Agricultural Extension and Cooperatives, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Mr. Jan Willem Ketelaar, the focal point for SRI-LMB from FAO. Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Regional Coordinator, SRI-LMB and Director, Asian Center of Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (ACISAI), the project’s host Center at AIT,  welcomed participants on behalf of the project and provided an brief introduction of the project.  Followed to that Mr. Phousit Phoumovong, Mr. Noundy Phongsavanh and Ms. Khamphoui Luanglath, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry made a presentation on SRI and Action Research in the context of Farmer’s Participatory Action Research (FPAR) in Lao PDR. The session continued with summarizing result of baseline survey / PRA study on SRI project by Mr. Avakat Phasouysaingam from the National University of Laos (NUoL). The presentation on monitoring, evaluation and impact were done by Mr. Digpal Bahadur, M & E Specialist from PCU, AIT.

Participants discussed and brainstormed in group on details work plan for their relevant provinces. Provincial work plan was presented to the workshop for comments.

The second day of the Workshop started with a presentation on the project work plan by Mr. Phatnakhone Khanthamixay of DAEC followed by Ms. Nguyet Bao Dang’s major highlights on the Project’s communication and policy advocacy. The overall workshop outputs reflected on enhancing project’s goal, objective and activities through planning, budgeting and developing the country specific log-frames and finalizing the draft country strategy paper with inputs from various stakeholders.

The formation of National Steering Committee/Technical Working Group for SRI LMB was discussed briefly and it was agreed to be completed at a later date with more consultation. The group will consist of representatives from PMU, relevant ministries & departments, academic institutions, one observer each from PCU, AIT and Local EU delegation. The ToR for NSW/TWG will be finalized in coming months. The working group shall meet annually at the national annual workshop to revisit and review project work in order to provide strategic direction to achieve the project goal.

Before the National Inception and Planning Workshop, a Regional Workshop was organized at AIT (see report) where food security issue and challenges of rainfed smallholder farmers in Lao PDR and possible way forward aligning with the existing national policy were reviewed involving international and regional team of the project along with Lao team that involved Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Nabong College of Agriculture and FAO Country IPM Programme staffs. This discussion was furthered during the National Inception and Planning Workshop involving national audience and locals to adjust and align the project work as per government policy. During the workshop, it was suggested by Dr. Thirasack that capacity building of rice farmers should be carried out within the framework of the MAF Strategy 2011-2020 to: 1) Gradual introduction and increased production of modernized lowland market oriented agriculture production, adapted to climate change, and focusing on smallholder farmers; 2) Conservation of upland eco-systems, ensuring food security and improving livelihoods of rural communities. These strategies are well anchored in the overall implementation plans of the SRI LMB in Lao PDR.
More can be seen in the workshop report.

  • Please check our photo gallery for the complete set of NIPW pictures.
    National Inception and Planning Workshop in Vietnam (23-24 May 2014)

A National Inception and Planning Workshop in Vietnam was organized from 23-24 May 2014 at the Trade Hotel, Hanoi. It was jointly organized by the FAO IPM Office with assistance from the National IPM Programme-Plant Protection Department (PPD), Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD). Ensuring wider national consultation on the objectives and activities of the project prior to implementation of activities in two selected provinces of Vietnam namely Bac Giang and Ha Tinh were the main purpose of the workshop.  Some 30 persons representing ministry, representative from two provinces, Hanoi Agriculture University and CSOs attended the two-day workshop.

The main objectives of this workshop were a) to inform the wider national level audience on the project, its goal, objective and activities; b) to revisit the project definition, goals, overall work plan; c) to finalize the country strategy paper; d) to formulate country specific log-frames, responsibility of each stakeholder and bud­gets; and e) to form National Steering Committees.

The Workshop was inaugurated by Mr. Ngo Tien Dung, Deputy Direc­tor of Plant Protection Department and National IPM Programme Coordinator, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (PPD-MARD). Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Regional Coordinator, SRI-LMB and Director, Asian Center of Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (ACISAI), the project’s host Center at AIT,  welcomed participants on behalf of the project and provided an brief introduction of the project. Followed by Mr. Nguyen Tuan Loc, National Training Expert and Director of Regional Center for Plant Protection, PPD-MARD provided general briefing on activities taken so far under SRI-LMB project in Vietnam.

The presentation sessions continued on SRI and Action Research in the context of farmers participatory action research (FPAR) in Vietnam by Mr. Ngo Tien Dung. The results of PRA survey initiated by the SRI LMB project as a part of overall implementation plan development focusing on  the rainfed rice production systems in Bac Giang and Ha Tinh provinces was discussed by representative of COMAC Vietnam, who were sub-contracted by the project. Experiences of SRI were shared by Ms. Do Thi Luyen, Vice Director of Plant Protection Sub Departmant, LMU Coordinator for Bac Giang province and Mr. Nguyen Tong Phong, LMU Coordinator, for Ha Tinh province. Followed to that the group discussion and brainstorming on the development of the policy advocacy and strategy and communication plan were held by Ms. Nguyet Bao Dang, Policy and Communication officer, SRI-LMB, Oxfam, one of the project partners of SRI LMB.

The second day of the workshop continued with the overall planning and finalization of the work plan and activities and planning in provincial groups through detailed planning of the Year 2014 activities for both the provinces in Vietnam. The overall workshop outputs reflected on enhancing project’s goal, objective and activities through planning, budgeting and developing the country specific log-frames and finalizing the draft country strategy paper with inputs from various stakeholders.

Before the National Inception Workshop, a regional workshop was organized at AIT (see report) where food security issue and challenges of rainfed smallholder farmers in Vietnam and possible way forward aligning with the existing national policy were reviewed involving international and regional team of the project along with Vietnamese  team that involved MARD, NGO (Initiatives on Community Empowerment and Rural Development (ICERD), representatives from the university (Thai Nguyen University and staff from the National IPM Programme.  This discussion was furthered during the National Inception Workshop involving national audience and locals to adjust and align the project work as per government policy. During the workshop, it was suggested by various speakers that major objectives of the SRI LMB project supports the larger policy frame work of Government of Vietnam:

  • On May 02, 2012, the Prime Minister issued Decision No.124/QD-TTg approving the master plan to develop agricultural production by 2020, and a vision in 2030 to build an agricultural development comprehensive development towards a modern, sustainable, large-scale commodity production on the basis of promoting comparative advantage, applying science and technology to increase productivity, quality efficiency and high competitiveness, ensuring strong national food security on a short and long term basis while adapting to the diverse needs of domestic and exports, and improving the efficiency of land use, water resources, labor and capital for agricultural production.

  • On June 10, 2013, the Prime Minister of Vietnam issued the Decision No. 899/QD-TTg approving the plan of restructuring the agricultural sector towards improving value-added and sustainable development (Agricultural restructuring plan-ARP). The Plan is aimed at maintaining growth, raising efficiency and competitive capacity through productivity, quality and value addition; meeting better the requirement and tastes of domestic consumers and boosting exports.

Sustainable and science-based development of agriculture sector with improved efficiency of land, water, labor and capital are integral part of the project implementation plan of SRI LMB project in Vietnam. And the various planned activities would contribute to the sustainable intensification of production in Vietnam.
The formation of National Steering Committee/Technical Working Group for SRI LMB was discussed briefly and it was agreed to be completed at a later date with more consultation. The group will consist of representatives from PMU, relevant ministries & departments, academic institutions, one observer each from PCU, AIT and Local EU delegation. The ToR for NSW/TWG will be finalized in coming months. The working group shall meet annually at the national annual workshop to revisit and review project work in order to provide strategic direction to achieve the project goal.

More can be seen in the workshop report.

  • Please check our photo gallery for the complete set of NIPW pictures.

 

    National Inception and Planning Workshop in Cambodia (21-22 May 2014)

A National Inception and Planning Workshop in Cambodia was organized from 21-22 May 2014 at the Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh. It was organized by the project’s country office of Cambodia so called Project Management Unit (PMU). It involved government organizations, project partners FAO and Oxfam, relevant ministries, NGOs, farmers, and think tank along with AIT, the project lead. The purpose of this workshop was to ensure wider national consultation on the objectives and activities of the project prior to implementation of activities in three selected provinces of Cambodia namely Takeo, Kampot and Kampong Speu.

The main objectives of this Workshop were a) to inform the wider national level audience on the project, its goal, objective and activities; b) to revisit the project definition, goals, overall work plan; c) to finalize the country strategy paper; d) to formulate country specific log-frames, responsibility of each stakeholder and budget; and e) to form National Steering Committees.

The Workshop was inaugurated by Mr. Ngin Chhay, Director of the Department of Rice Crop (DRC), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Cambodia, Ms. Nina Brandstrup, FAO Representative in Cambodia, and Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Regional Coordinator, SRI-LMB and Director, Asian Center of Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (ACISAI), the project’s host in AIT. The session begin with project introduction by Dr. Kumar and continued with Mr. Kong Kea, Country Coordinator, who presented the highlights on the System of Rice Intensification and action research in the context of farmers participatory action research (FPAR) in Cambodia. Followed to that Mr. Suon Seng from CENTDOR (a NGO based in Cambodia) discussed the summary results of participatory rural appraisal work that was undertaken by him as a part of consultancy assignment for the SRI-LMB project. The discussions on monitoring, evaluation and impact were done by Mr. Chuong Sophal, Dean of Agronomy Faculty, Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), one of the national partners of AIT and Mr. Digpal Bahadur, M & E Specialist from PCU, AIT.

The first day of the workshop concluded with the formation of National Steering Committee/Technical Working Group. The aim of this group was to provide strategic direction to the project and consisted of representatives from PMU, ministries, government, local partner CSOs, research institutions and universities (e.g., RUA) and CSOs (e.g. Oxfam, CEDAC) and one observer from PCU, AIT. The first meeting of Technical Working Group was conducted under the supervision of Mr. Ngin Chhay (DRC, MAFF). The working group shall meet annually at the national annual workshop to revisit and review project work in order to provide strategic direction to achieve the project goal. In the second day of the workshop continued with the briefing and discussions on the project’s Communication and Policy Advocacy Strategy by the representative from Oxfam OA. The workshop concluded with the summarization of results of the inception workshop.

Before the National Inception Workshop, a Regional Workshop was organized at AIT (see report) where food security issue and challenges of rainfed smallholder farmers in Cambodia and possible way forward aligning with the existing national policy were reviewed involving international and regional team of the project along with Cambodian team that involved General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA), Rice Department, Royal University of Agriculture, NGO (Agriculture Technology Services Association, ATSA) and National IPM Programme staffs. This discussion was furthered during the National Inception Workshop involving national audience and locals to adjust and align the project work as per government policy. During the workshop, It was suggested by Ngin Chhay that smallholder farmer’s capacity building should be based on the “Rectangular Strategy-Phase II” policy of RGC to strengthen productivity enhancement, diversification and agricultural commercialization (from subsistence to commercial agriculture).

In this regard, the RGC has set the year 2015 as the target year to: (1) achieve paddy rice surplus of more than 4 million tons and achieve milled rice export of at least 1 million ton; and (2) ensure the international recognition of Cambodian rice. Adding further to that Mr. Chhay said that RGC has an ambition to turn Cambodia into a major “rice - white gold” exporting country in the international market by development of knowledge and capacity of farmers to produce high quality rice using low inputs and at a low cost while focusing on enhanced production technology; management of soil fertility; management of water, seeds and fertilizers; conservation of natural resource base, by innovating sustainable rice production technologies in the context of local wisdom and resource availability. It was commonly and widely understood that SRI-LMB is contributing towards these goals to transform Cambodia into a “rice basket” and a major milled rice-exporting country in the global market on a sustainable basis through unleashing power of innovation at three selected provinces in Cambodia working with women and men rice farmers and through involvement of landless and other disadvantaged in the communities through a series of farmer’s action research from 2014-2017.
More can be seen in the workshop report

  • Please check our photo gallery for the complete set of NIPW pictures.
    National Inception and Planning Workshop in Thailand (29-30 Jan 2014)

A National Inception and Planning Workshop in Thailand was organized from 29-30 January 2014 at the AIT Conference Center. It involved government organizations, NGOs, relevant ministries, farmers, students, academicians, FAO and think tank to ensure national consultation on the objectives and activities of the project prior to implementation of action in two selected provinces of Thailand, Uttaradit and Surin.

The purpose of the Workshop was to inform the national and local audience about project goal and objectives and later its fine-tuning with national policies and priorities. The project ‘definition’ in the context of rice intensification at rainfed smallholder farms was revisited involving various actors and subsequently, work plan and roadmap for implementation was developed, discussed and finalized. Finally, initial discussions were held on the formation of national steering committee for Thailand, and initial membership was proposed.

The Workshop was inaugurated by Dr. Shobhakar Dhakal, Chair for the Steering Committee of Asian Center of Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (ACISAI) and Associate Professor of Energy Field of Study of AIT. Followed to that Dr. Abha Mishra, Team Leader of the SRI-LMB Project provided an overview of the project including project goal and objective and its structural organization at regional, country and provincial level. While she mentioned several key options available for sustainable intensification of rice, for rainfed areas of Thailand she advised that soil productivity improvement and healthy root development strategy should be taken into account. She stressed the importance of AIT as a regional hub and encouraged students to be the part of this multi-institutional and multi-stakeholders engagement. She also provided information on the availability of fund for students who will undertake research on similar subject.

Followed to that Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Regional Coordinator and PMU Coordinator for Thailand, provided details specifically related to Thailand’s work and asked national stakeholders to review the goal and objective in the context of national priorities and policies. He emphasized the contribution of rice in Thailand’s GDP and Royal Thai Government’s (RTG) favorable policy. He further noted that almost 80% rice growing area in Thailand is rainfed with limited innovation. Smallholder farmers produce less than their capacity due to lack of use of best practices. So to improve the productivity sustainably is one of the aims of the project.

Dr. Mads Korn, the representative of the EU Delegation Thailand introduced European Union office of Bangkok to the audience and emphasized the importance of food safety and food security. He also provided information on Erasmus Mundus scholarships available for students for education and research. Further, Mr. Jan Willem Ketelaar, Chief Technical advisor, FAO’s Pesticide Risk Reduction Programme discussed about the crop production in the context of IPM and the role of farmer participatory action research. He provided insights on the global rice production and Asian rice production trend and future food demand, and mentioned about the farmer’s field schools and their importance in educating farmers.(Images during the Opening Session)

In the subsequent sessions, presentations were made from representative of local offices of Ministry of Education in Uttaradit and Surin provinces, also from farmers and local NGOs. They all emphasized the need of organic food production with reduced cost of cultivation for higher profitability and sustainability. Finally, Ms. Pemjit, Online database expert of the project explained about the SRI-LMB web page and also provided guideline for the use of online database for systematic documentation of the project learning. (Presentation photos are available online.)

Second day of the workshop was a closed session intended for overall planning and finalization of work plan for both provinces. Eighteen provincial representatives of Ministry of Education from Surin and Uttaradit participated in finalizing the work plan and draft strategy paper for Thailand. More can be seen in the workshop report and planning images can also be viewed online.

  • Please check our photo gallery for the complete set of NIPW pictures.

 

    Regional Training of Trainers Course (28 Aug - 07 Sep 2013)

A regional training was organized by the AIT's project coordination unit of SRI-LMB Project from 28 August – 07 September 2013, attended by some 20 participants from 4 Lower Mekong River Basin Countries, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The Team Leader of Project, Dr. Abha Mishra along with the Vice President Research of AIT, Prof. Kanchana Kanchanasut inaugurated the training on 28 August 2013 at the AIT Conference Center. (More details on images)

The main objective of the training was to build the capacity of country manager, provincial manager and national training expert who will be responsible to implement and coordinate the systematic adaptive research using SRI principles in all four project countries. The training course focused on a series of class room and hands-on session on various aspects covering problem analysis, experimental design, data collection, analysis and interpretation. In addition, a series of structured learning exercises focusing on rice root, rhizosphere were carried out to enhance scientific understanding. At the same time various monitoring and evaluation tools were discussed. In addition, the gender integration into the Farmers Field School (FFS) curricula was also discussed in detail. Finally, participants also received training to use and manage the database using intranet to systematically inter and analyze the field data that will be collected from more than 300 experimental sites of 10 rained provinces of four project countries. (More details on images Discussion and Field Work)

A field trip to the Uttaradit province was organized to meet a group of SRI farmers and also the staffs and Director of Vocational Training Institute.

Apart from AIT, partner organization of the project Oxfam and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations contributed to the various sessions during the regional training. (More images on here)

    Regional Inception Workshop (09-12 April 2013)

The Inception Workshop was held at the AIT campus, Pathumthani, Thailand for a total period of 4 days from 09-12 April 2013. This workshop involved various government, non‐governmental organizations, academic and UN partners that are working in the Southeast Asian region and are concerned with sustainable intensification of agriculture, especially in rainfed areas.The chief recommendation from the workshop was for the development of adaptive measures to protect against climate change so as to address the food security and livelihood issues of smallholding farmers in Lower Mekong River Basin (LMB) countries. The strategy was to set up local, national, regional and international ‘innovation platforms’ for joint initiatives and coordinated actions. (More details on images and presentation of Inception Workshop)

Report - Inception and Planning Workshop

    AIT Receives Grant to Help Small Farmers Confront Climate Change in the Lower Mekong River Basin through SRI (12 Nov 2012)

The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand, has been awarded a grant by the European Union (EU) for the implementation of a project on "Sustaining and Enhancing the Momentum for Innovation and Learning around the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in the Lower Mekong River Basin." The contract between AIT and the European Union, which was signed on November 12, 2012, inidicates that the project will last 60 months with a total cost of approximately 3.4 million Euros, 85% of which will be provided by the EU. The main objective of the project is to contribute to enhance resilience of rainfed small-scale farmers of the Lower Mekong Region confronting climate change.

The project will be implemented in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The main applicant for this project is AIT along with its partners - FAO Regional IPM Programme in South and Southeast Asia, Oxfam America, and Institute of Development Studies University of Sussex in UK. The Associate partners for the project are the SRI-Rice Center at the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD) in at Cornell University, and the University of Queensland in Australia. For more information, contact: Abha Mishra , project manager. (See press release for more information.)

    Five-Year AIT Project on SRI in the Lower Mekong River Basin Funded by the European Community (During September 2011)

A regional project on Sustaining and Enhancing the Momentum for Innovation and Learning around the SRI in the Lower Mekong River Basin proposed by the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Bangkok to the European Community (EC) for financing was approved during September 2011. The five-year 2.88 million euro project will be implemented in rainfed areas of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The project goal is to enhance the resilience of rainfed smallholder farmers and their farming communities as they deal with climate change and other challenges in the four countries. The main project partners are the FAO Regional IPM Programme, Oxfam America, and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, UK. Project associates include the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD) in USA and the University of Queensland in Australia. Project partners will stimulate and support local innovation through farmers’ participatory action research (FPAR) and collaboration among agricultural sector professionals and organizations for enhancing food security.