Food and Fertilizer Technology Center - publications

Jun. 23, 2020

Down memory lane: a brief history of FFTC (1990s)

Down memory lane: a brief history of FFTC (1990s)


FFTC’s contribution to the citrus industry in Southeast Asia

In the `90s and early 2000s, FFTC has also set up field demonstration projects in Vietnam and Cambodia on the management of disease-free citrus orchards, and has provided technical and partial financial support for the establishment of laboratory and insect-proof screen houses in national institutes. This was undertaken under the leadership of FFTC’s consultant in horticulture and crop protection, Dr. Hong-Ji Su, a Professor at the National Taiwan University. With funding and guidance from the FFTC management, Professor Su has facilitated a citrus research and development project, which initially started in two countries and eventually cascaded in the whole region.

The key technologies disseminated through the NARS partners and FFTC's various forms of media included rapid and accurate pathogen detection, production of disease-free seedlings, IPM in seedling nurseries, micro-grafting of shoot tips, and crop management for preventing re-infection technologies. Among those most active in the transfer of acquired technologies are the Southern Horticultural Research Institute (SOFRI) and Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) in Vietnam with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The same technologies have also been further extended to Lao PDR and Myanmar through FFTC’s partner organizations. As the report of the FFTC 2015 External Review said, for two decades, FFTC’s commitment and financial support have resulted in significant gains to control this destructive disease in Southeast Asia.

The above photos show FFTC consultant Dr. Hong-Ji Su, professor at the National Taiwan University, who spearheaded a citrus research and development project in the `90s and early 2000s. The project was initially started in two countries and eventually cascaded in the whole Asian and Pacific Region.

The Center’s high point in 1990 was FFTC’s 20th Anniversary, which coincided with the 10th TAC Meeting. The Center joined eminent agricultural scientists and administrators to review the work of FFTC and discussed how it might form closer links with the national extension systems of the Asian and Pacific Region. This meeting produced several valuable recommendations like the publication of simple, practical information, rather than the results of scientific research.

At the 20 th anniversary of FFTC in April 1980, Dr. Yoshiaki Ishizuka was awarded the order of the Brilliant Star with Violet Grand Cordon by the government of Taiwan for his distinguished services to agriculture. Dr. Ishizuka has served FFTC for 30 years as Deputy Director and TAC member.

In the mid-`80s, FFTC Director Dr. Chen-Hwa Huang pushed for the strengthening of the demonstration plots as an effective way to inform farmers of new production technologies. Photo shows an educational trip to one of the many greenhouses in Taiwan during a seminar on emerging plant diseases.

A number of seminars held by the Center in 1991 were concerned with achieving economies of scale on the small farms characteristic of most Asian countries. This is important as farm production in the region comes under the threat of cheap, imported agricultural produce. FFTC held an international seminar in Thailand on “Integrated Systems of Swine Production through Extension and Marketing.” Another seminar was held in Thailand on how to enlarge the scale of farm operations of smallholders, with the discussion focusing on problems and successes of various programs of group farming and contract farming for small farms. Another agricultural economics seminar held in Korea, discussed how farmers organized into agricultural cooperatives can increase their participation in agribusiness.

Two highlights of 1992 were the Center’s 11th TAC Meeting, held in Korea, which discussed systems of sustainable agriculture in the region, and the FFTC External Evaluation, which was conducted by a four-man team headed by the German IRRI scientist Dr. Helmut von Uexkull and three TAC members, Dr. Kunio Toriyama (Japan), Dr. Yong-Hwa Shin (Korea), and Mr. Chin-Chao Koh (Taiwan). After more than 20 years of existence, the external reviewers concluded that “FFTC has played an immensely important and productive role in collecting, exchanging and disseminating information on a very wide range of modern agriculture,” and that “FFTC publications have provided most valuable and reliable sources of information for students, teachers, technicians and agronomists and farm leaders in the region.” It was also in November of this year when a new Director, Mr. Chin-Chao Kho, was appointed. He held the position for six years.

Participants of an FFTC-MARDI workshop visit various structural types of greenhouses ranging from the low to the high-tech types. In the workshop on protected cultivation, it was emphasized that greenhouses optimize the growth environment for plants especially at this time when weather conditions are erratic and unpredictable.

Speakers and participants of the regional workshop on “Protected Cultivation of High Value Crops under Climate Conditions” visited the Green World Genetics (GWG) in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and observed the operations of various greenhouses.


The programs carried out in 1993 reflected a strong concern for sustainability in the region’s agriculture. An international seminar on the improved management of insect-borne virus diseases focused on biological control methods. Another topic was the improved diagnosis of plant virus diseases by monoclonal antibodies, allowing for early detection and accurate identification. It was on this year when FFTC held an international training course on new techniques of testing fruit and vegetables for pesticide residues.

Called the Rapid Bioassay of Pesticide Residues (RBPR), it is a bio-chemical analysis to monitor pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables and is considered as a rapid method to detect residues of organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. Thus began another series of training courses which FFTC embarked on for several years. The training course consists of intensive lectures, discussions, laboratory exercises, hands on experiences, and field visits to observe the practical application of RBPR in fruits and vegetables production and marketing in Taiwan.

In 1994, the Center held a number of programs concerned with improved upland farming. One international meeting discussed researches in upland agriculture, including agroforestry and alley cropping of leafy legume trees. Another international workshop on livestock production concluded that livestock can make an important contribution to the profitability and productivity of farming systems in upland areas.

A staff in the Hsi-Lo vegetable wholesale market demonstrates how he easily detects the pesticide residues of various vegetables using the RBPR technology of which FFTC held a series of trainings during the 2010s.

Two of the 17 trainees from eight countries learned the ropes of how the Rapid Bioassay of Pesticide Residues (RBPR) on fruits and vegetables work. This simple, quick and low-cost technology has been found to be suitable for small-scale farmers in the Asian and Pacific Region. FFTC and TARI, Taichung collaborated on this project in 2011.

Addressing the challenges of the WTO

It was at the tail end of 1994 when the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) made a smooth transition and shifted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January, 1995, restricting most forms of direct economic support for farmers, such as subsidies and price support. At the same time, domestic markets in Asia were opened to cheap imported agricultural produce. So in May, 1995 an international meeting on food processing by small-scale farmers was organized by the Center. It discussed not only the technology of small-scale food processing for Asian countries, but the managerial skills and other information required by farmers to succeed.

In 1996, a number of the Center’s seminars have addressed the problems of Asia’s small family farms in the light of the effects of WTO. One international seminar was on the viability of family farms and food security under WTO. Another seminar was carried out in partnership with AVRDC (now WorldVeg) to discuss improved fertilizer efficiency for vegetable production. It was also this year when the Center began a survey on the use of agricultural chemicals other than fertilizers. It studied current patterns of pesticide use, including health and environment issues. There was also a workshop on crop-livestock integration which aimed to study programs which combine annual and forage crops with the raising of small livestock.

The projects for 1997 continued FFTC’s interest in collecting and disseminating information on sustainable agriculture. On this year, there was an emphasis on the collection of information through surveys. The agricultural situation in the region during that time was already changing rapidly in response to the global trend towards free trade, and to the worldwide concern over the long-term environmental impact of agriculture. One important survey was on technology for livestock production, while another was a survey on the incidence of virus diseases on fruits and their vectors. There were also training courses on integrated weed management and the use of biological agents to control pests and weeds.

In 1998, Dr. Torng-Chuang Wu was appointed as the new Director of FFTC, a position he held until October, 2004. The Center also continued its survey of the incidence of virus diseases of banana and citrus, particularly in nursery and foundation stock. The work also included a regional evaluation of the damage done by corn borer and fruit fly. Another important program was a seminar on rural tourism. This enabled farmers to capitalize on the growing wish of city dwellers in Asia to enjoy the quiet countryside and take part in country life.

In 1986, FFTC began a survey on the use of agricultural chemicals other than fertilizers. It studies current patterns of pesticide use, including health and environment issues. It was that time when a number of the Center’s seminars have addressed the problems of Asia’s small family farms in the light of the effects of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Going online

The FFTC website started to be developed in the mid-`90s, but it was in 1997 when it went online and was accessed by the public at In 1999, FFTC established an online database which could be accessed through its website. In this first year of development, the database has made available free of charge the FFTC publications of the last ten years, including several hundred Extension and Technical Bulletins. It was also this year when the Center began a regional survey of information flow in national extension systems and the information needs of extension staff, so that it can better meet these needs.

Former FFTC local staff during the mid-`90s. It was during those times when the Center started to develop its own website.  FFTC went online in 1997. Two years later, the Center established an online database which could be accessed through its website. The database has made available free of charge the FFTC publications for the last ten years including several hundred Extension and Technical Bulletins.

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