The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, emphasizing the fact that family farms occupy a large share of the world’s agricultural land and produce about 80% of the world’s food.
But as humanity faces the new challenges posed by climate change as well as dealing with the cruel degradation of the environment, experts say the limits of highly intensive farming systems are already clearly being shown.
Although FFTC’s activities for 2014 is not directly focused on family farms, the issues and challenges that it dealt with in the workshops and seminars it mounted are similar to those which are targeted by other organizations working directly with farming systems. They are the challenges that zero in on the pressing needs of small-scale farmers, whose main goal is to meet the basic necessities of their immediate families. The issues related to soils, fertilizers, food safety, agricultural policy, tropical fruit aging farmers, etc. all aim at putting safe and nutritious food on the table, earning more income to improve shelter conditions and purchase decent clothes to protect the family from the elements.
This year, FFTC embarked on the following projects addressing global agriculture’s most pressing issues.
Technical advisory seminar-information dissemination strategy in Asia Pacific region
This FFTC Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is made up of distinguished agricultural scientists and officers in the region. They meet once every two years to evaluate and provide inputs on how the Center is going to chart its directions in the next years.
Management and remediation technologies of rural soils contaminated by heavy metals and radioactive materials
Conducted in Taichung, Taiwan, the workshop gathered soil experts from different parts of Asia to identify and develop reliable, economically feasible and effective remediation technologies for the polluted soil and groundwater by radioactive chemicals. It also aimed to understand the status of rural soils contaminated by heavy metals and management strategies of food safety crops grown in contaminated sites of Asian countries.
Collection of relevant agricultural policy information and its practical use
This participatory seminar served as knowledge sharing and cross-learning experience among agri economists as they reported their updates regarding their countries’ major agricultural policies. Topics ranged from farmers’ incomes to farmlands to crop insurance and policy research.
Recent trends and future perspectives of biofuel production in Asia
Held in Bangkok, Thailand, this international workshop dealt with ways on how biofuels can help revitalize and improve livelihoods in rural areas. Through lectures and discussions, topics such as finding alternative sources of biofuels, especially those which are chiefly derived from cellulose and hemicellulose, became the subject of exchange of information.
Recent progress in swine breeding and raising technologies and cutting-edge reproductive technologies and perspectives for their usage in swine
This international symposium on swine breeding technologies emphasized on innovative reproductive management in the light of the fact that many swine breeds are now categorized as critical. Pig scientists from various countries talked about molecular technology, swine feed and nutrition, swine health management, pork quality and meat processing and the swine industries of various countries.
Improving safety of fresh fruit and vegetables in Southeast Asia
This workshop, which was conducted in the Philippines that focused on food safety issues of fruit and vegetables in the ASEAN region, led to open discussions on policies and measures implemented in respective countries, as well as other concerns like traceability systems, constraints in farmers’ adoption of Good Agricultural Practices or GAPs, etc.
Enhanced entry of young generation into farming
This international seminar held in Korea aimed to review the current status of Asian agriculture vis-à-vis the aging farmers, and tried to find comprehensive ways to enhance the entry of the young generation into farming in this era of free trade. Speakers talked about the plight of the aging farmers in their respective countries while at the same time shared their ideas and insights on how to attract the young generation to engage in agriculture, succession decisions, investing in out-of-school-youths, etc.
Increasing production and market access for tropical fruit in the Asia-Pacific region under changing environment
FFTC took the initiative to invite its partners in Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to collect existing primary and secondary data on the tropical fruit value chain, and related policies, regulations and R&D in their respective countries.
R&D strategic planning to expand Southeast Asian marketing of tropical fruit seeds and seedlings
FFTC’s new three-year project is basically a survey regarding the socioeconomic and agri-environmental factors; production, marketing and consumption, and their constraints, and research and development of tropical fruit in Southeast Asia. A gist of the preliminary report has already been made.
Asia-Pacific information platform on agricultural policy (Year 2)
The second year of the AP project saw the development of the AP website, with more agricultural policy articles submitted by the contracted partners uploaded to the website. The contracted AP partners met for the first time and formed their own findings and recommendations.
Professor Masayoshi Honma’s lecture on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) under the Abe administration
The Japanese agricultural economist recently delivered a lecture on the TPP, the new stage of Free Agreement in the stage of globalization
FFTC publications and website on Asian agriculture
The Center collected its most recent and more relevant agricultural technologies and information through its various workshops and seminars and packaged them into several documentation formats like extension and technical bulletins, workshop proceedings and newsletters. These publications are mailed to some 2000 libraries all over the world and at the same time, published in the Center’s website to generate a rippling multiplier effect.
FFTC Director Yu-Tsai Huang inspects the agri-machineries of a farm in Chayi, Taiwan. The Center’s activities for 2014 are focused on addressing the pressing issues facing the region’s agriculture.
A workshop this year focused on food safety issues of fruit and vegetables in the ASEAN region.
Most of the Center’s activities dealt with the farmers’ adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).