Since late 1980s, FFTC has been periodically sending technical missions for the transfer of HLB management technology to the region, but only with a limited success. Because of the shortage of budget and manpower, it was hardly possible to provide intensive and integrated technical support to various Southeast Asian countries. In recent years, however, HLB has spread through the Asian and Pacific region, and has devastated its major citrus production areas. In view of the adverse state of the region’s citrus industry, many countries have been requesting FFTC and NTU to transfer to them Taiwan’s integrated HLB management technology through intensive hands-on training, training workshops, on-site training, technical missions, organizing international workshops and seminars, and so forth.
In the last 4 years, FFTC/NTU have conducted a variety of activities on HLB management such as an international workshop (Hanoi, Vietnam), training workshops (Taiwan, Cambodia), laboratory training (for Cambodia trainees and APAARI invited trainees from 6 countries), and technical missions of over six times to such countries as Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. In spite of these intensive activities, FFTC/NTU could complete only basic laboratory trainings on HLB management in Vietnam and Cambodia. Currently, a total of nine countries are expecting similar or more advanced trainings on HLB management by FFTC/ NTU. These countries include Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Brunei, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia. However, even if FFTC/ NTU had successfully trained these countries under the current training scheme, it will take more than 20 years to complete only the basic training for the remaining seven countries.
This five-year project aims to rehabilitate the citrus industry devastated by HLB and virus diseases in the ASPAC region by taking full advantage of the advanced Taiwan technology on integrated management of HLB and relevant virus diseases. It will be a heavy burden for FFTC/NTU to take responsibility for the capacity building of a total of nine countries, with considerable differences in both manpower and facility, up to a level where they can practically manage citrus HLB diseases within 5 years. Hence, to facilitate and enhance the training efficiency, the nine participating countries will organize a network, with FFTC/ NTU as its headquarters/coordinators. This project, in principle, will be planned, implemented, evaluated and followed-up based upon the ‘Network Approach.’ The network participants shall play dual and/or triple roles in this project. For instance, Thailand may have enough capacity to send a trainer to give beginners training in a laboratory training course. However, they urgently need an intermediate to advanced training on the indexing of HLB and relevant viruses, and a basic on-site training on the epidemiology, IPM and health management of rehabilitated orchards. Similar training arrangements are necessary for Malaysia and Vietnam.
The network will also serve as the communication platform between FFTC/NTU and network members, between members and members, and among FFTC/NTU, members, and partners (Taiwan, Japan and USA) for information and technology exchange, mutual technical backstopping between network members, organization of mini-workshops with two to three countries with common problems, prompt sharing of promising and new relevant information and technologies provided by network coordinators and member countries, prompt sharing of valuable information provided by other organizations and networks to FFTC and member countries, and free-chatting tools.