An Experts’ meeting was held in Taipei on February, 1969 to examine the technical aspects of establishing a Center. Four months later, on June 11, 1969, an agreement was formally signed by member countries of the then Asian and Pacific Council (ASPAC) in Kawana, Japan.
The establishment of FFTC
The germ of the idea of establishing a Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the Asian and Pacific Region was first broached in the late `60s during a discussion by the member countries of the Asian and Pacific Council or ASPAC. Established in June, 1966, ASPAC’s mandate was to forge regional collaboration and solidarity. From the onset, the idea of establishing FFTC was met with general approval and a committee was set up for detailed planning. By February 1969, an Experts’ meeting was held in Taipei to examine the technical aspects of establishing a Center. Two documents were drafted which laid out the basic aims and principles of the Center. One was “an agreement establishing a Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the Asian and Pacific Region.” The second was “Guiding Principles for the Establishment of a Food and Fertilizer Technology Center.” These two documents were approved by the member countries of ASPAC, and the Agreement was formally signed at Kawana, Japan on June 11, 1969.
FFTC was intended as an information Center to serve small-scale farmers in the Asian and Pacific Region. The Agreement emphasized the need for regional cooperation, and the importance of increasing both the yields and income of farmers. As the original document of the Agreement of Establishing FFTC says:
“…Recognizing that the Governments and peoples of the Asian and Pacific Region have a common interest in strengthening their existing bonds of solidarity and cooperation,
Being convinced that the increasing agricultural food production and the raising of farmers’ incomes are of primary importance for the development of the region…”
An interim office was set up on January 1, 1970 and the first staff of the Center was appointed. Finally, the first Director took office on April 1, 1970, and the Center was inaugurated. Originally, an Executive Board was created consisting of representatives of nine countries-Australia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Republic of China (Taiwan). Until 1975, these member countries actively participated in FFTC activities. The Australian and New Zealand representatives, in particular provided the Center with valuable expertise and experiences which helped the Center greatly in setting up various guidelines, procedures, and rules for operations and management.
Inauguration of the office in Taipei was on April 24, 1970 with its first Director, Mr. Hai-Fan Chu, a fertilizer expert, who used to work for the FAO in Thailand. Since then, there have been 13 agricultural experts who have served as Directors of FFTC. Today FFTC has a total of 12 employees. It is headed by a Director who basically provides overall leadership to its professional and support staff.
The above two photographs are taken from the early meetings of ASPAC member countries in the late `60s when a committee was set up to plan in detail the establishment of an information center to serve small-scale farmers in the Asian and Pacific Region.
First newsletter and seminar
The first newsletter was published on September 16, 1970, with the headline on a short course distribution of chemical fertilizers and farmers’ organizations and services for 12 extension workers from Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Similarly, the first seminar on crop physiology and fertilizer application was held for 12 days from December 7-18, 1970. In the same year, four bulletins were published. These consisted of papers delivered at the extension course of the seminar. It was decided that highly technical papers will be published as technical bulletins, while papers of a more general nature will be published as extension bulletins. There were 666 names on the Center’s mailing list, 426 of which were sent to extension workers in several countries in Southeast Asia.
FFTC’s very first newsletter was published on September 16, 1970. It contains stories on a short course on distribution of chemical fertilizers and a seminar on crop physiology and fertilizer application which was held for 12 days and attended by several extension workers from different Asian countries. To this day, the FFTC newsletter is still published on a quarterly basis.
The first seminar that FFTC organized was on crop physiology and fertilizer application which was held from December 7-18, 1970. To date, the Center has organized a total of 414 workshops and seminars on various agricultural topics.
The following year, in June 1971, FFTC conducted its first seminar outside Taiwan at Khon Kaen in Northeast Thailand. This was a seminar on “Diagnostic Techniques for Soils and Crops” with 153 participants. Three months later, in September, the Center held another seminar in Japan on “Fertilizer Regulations.”
In 1972, the Center organized three training courses and three seminars. For the training courses, the first was a one-day lecture on “Rice Cultivation and Fertilizer Use” which was held in Bangkok, Thailand. The second training course was on “Grassland Farming” which was held in Japan on July 2-22. The third was a short course on “Multiple Cropping,” which was held in Taiwan on October 16 to November 10. For seminars, the first was held in Taiwan on June 6-14, 1972 on “The Economics of Fertilizer Use.” The second was on “Production and Evaluation of Forage and Fodder Crops” which was held on August 1-11 in Thailand. And the last was on “Soils of the ASPAC Region” which was held in Korea on August 28-September 4, 1972. It was during this year when the demand for publications increased from 666 names to 2000 names on the mailing list.
In the early times up to these days, FFTC’s workshops and seminars always include educational trips where speakers and participants observe farming in action.
In 1973, Mr. Dong-Bai Lee, FFTC's Agricultural Economist, authored a book on “Economic Survey of Fertilizer Situation in the Asian and Pacific Region.” It covers fertilizer production supply, consumption, importation, export, marketing, prices, demand, subsidy, raw materials and future prospects in nine countries—Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It was also on the same year when the Center partnered with the Economic Center (ECOCEN) in Bangkok and prepared a report on the “Economics of Beef Production in the Asian and Pacific Region.” Meanwhile, from October, 1973 to April, 1975, FFTC had as its second Director, Dr. Y. Ishizuka, the only Japanese national to head the Center.
It was also during this year when diverging interests and perceptions limited ASPAC’s organizational capacity and infrastructure. In 1973, ASPAC started to slowly weaken and dissolve as an organization and Australia withdrew its membership in 1974, with New Zealand following in 1976. In between, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, one after the other, became inactive but did not withdraw their membership. However, Japan, Korea and Taiwan representatives remained on the Executive Board and the Center has been able to carry on its work without interruption.
From May 1975 to April, 1979, the Center had Dr. Shou-Ching Chang as its Director.
A respected scientific organization
In 1977, the FFTC Annual Report reported that during this time, the Center has already achieved a reputation as a respected scientific organization as evidenced by the strong support it received from its projects and the steadily increasing numbers of names in the mailing list. It was also during this year when the Center funded the trip of Dr. Ira Lawrence Baldwin, soil bacteriologist and Emeritus Vice President of the University of Wisconsin, where he delivered two lectures and reviewed the teaching and research program in soil micro-organisms at the National Taiwan University. Likewise, a study grant was also funded by the Center to a Korean scientist to observe and study the methane gas production from hog manure in Taiwan.
This is one of the oldest photographs of the FFTC management during the 1970s. It was during those times when fertilizer management, particularly for rice, crop variety and pest control, as well as organization of cooperatives was the target topics or themes of FFTC’s seminars and workshops.
The following year, in 1978, FFTC conducted nine regional meetings, dealing with subjects like technology generation and verification, cassava production, dairy-beef farming, fertilizer management for rice, food safety, farm mechanization, farm business management which were conducted in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Philippines and Thailand, respectively. These workshops and seminars generated 113 technical papers and reports. It was also during this year, when the TAC members recommended publishing a directory of agricultural scientists to serve as a resource book for exchange of expertise in the region.
In 1978, the FFTC-TAC members recommended the publication of a directory of agricultural scientists to serve as a resource book for exchange of expertise in the region.
From May 1979 to July, 1982, the Center was headed by Dr. Carson K.H. Wu.
To wrap up the `70s decade, a directory of participants in FFTC activities from 1970 to 1979 had been compiled by the Center and printed into book form. The directory served as a valuable resource of reference for technical people in the field of agriculture and rural development. It was also on this year, when a new brochure was printed that included a list of activities and publications from 1970 to 1979.