FFTC continues to face up to the challenges that each year brings. In 2008, armed with a greater resolve to effectively and efficiently address the plight of small-scale farmers, and traversing into the second-year implementation of the FFTC Strategic Plan for 2007-2011, the Center embarked on programs and activities that address current concerns such as sustainability of natural resources and the environment through ecologically sound agricultural practices, enhancement of rural development and entrepreneurship, exploring alternative sources of energy, and meeting changing market and consumer preferences through food quality and safety standards amid recent trends in economic development and globalization.
Summarized below are the major activities of the Center in the year 2008.
Members of the FFTC-TAC, composed of distinguished agricultural experts and research administrators from the ASPAC region, convened to deliberate on the program and policy directions that will guide FFTC in the translation of its Strategic Plan, as well as in formulating an appropriate performance evaluation system to improve the Center's project implementation. During the meeting, the TAC members provided valuable suggestions and recommendations to help ensure that the Center's programs and activities are effective and efficient in terms of collecting and disseminating information and technology that are focused on the right problem, involve the right users, and are relevant and useful to small-scale farmers amid the present global agricultural environment.
Agricultural water is one of the most critical components of food safety during production. Water has the potential to transmit both chemical and biological hazards to fresh produce, as used for irrigation of crops, and/or during post-harvest operations. At any of these points, the use of contaminated agricultural water (AW) could potentially pose food safety hazards. Hence, effective water management strategies are necessary in improving and maintaining AW quality to ensure safe food production as well as for the sustainability of water resources.
This study meeting was organized primarily to share and exchange promising technologies and innovative practices for the effective monitoring and management of AW quality. During the meeting, participants deliberated on: newly-developed technologies/innovations in monitoring systems for AW quality; technologies for AW conservation, pollution prevention and remediation, and institutional and policy arrangements; and development of guidelines and standards for minimum requirements of AW quality for small- and medium-scale Asian farmers.
Citrus is today one of the most important fruit crops in Asia, especially for millions of the region's rural poor. However, the spread of Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, and other virus diseases such as citrus tristeza closterovirus (CTV), citrus tatter leaf capillovirus (CTLV), and citrus exocortis viroid (CEV) have long been seriously threatening the region's citrus industry. These systemic diseases can only be controlled effectively through an integrated management approach involving: precise and rapid disease indexing; cultivating pathogen-free seedlings and establishing pathogen-free nursery system; eliminating inoculum sources; and preventing secondary spread by vectors.
This international workshop primarily aimed to provide a forum among scientists and extension workers to: gain a better understanding of the current status of citrus greening and virus disease occurrence in the region and the corresponding management initiatives in each participating country; and collect and exchange new technological information to help scientists and extension workers develop a holistic management approach for citrus greening and other virus diseases.
Within the context of globalization, countries worldwide must find solutions to cope with the risks and impact of major emerging plant pests, particularly the introduction of invasive alien species. This potential global threat to humans, agricultural production, indigenous ecosystem, and animal and plant health is gaining more and more attention in view of increasing travel and trade among countries, which heightens the movement of alien invasive species across national borders.
The primary goal of this seminar was to provide a venue for the sharing and exchange of relevant knowledge and experiences in the monitoring, surveillance, and information management of emerging plant pests, as well as in maintaining an information flow and database sharing to facilitate international cooperation in addressing this major concern.
Soil Information System (SIS) provides not only relevant soil information related to crop productivity, but also a wide-ranging useful data for such areas as assessment and conservation of environmental quality and wildlife habitats, and global warming and energy concerns. The primary goal of this workshop was to create an opportunity to review the current status of SIS in Asian countries; to share and exchange relevant information and knowledge for the development of appropriate SIS in each country; and to discuss the possibility of establishing a regional soil information system.
There is an enormous potential for small-scale, low-input goat production to make an important contribution to poverty alleviation and rural development in the Asian region. Goats are a most likely alternative source of animal protein, and can efficiently provide meat and milk to complement cattle and buffalo production.
This international seminar aimed to provide a forum for the sharing and exchange of technology and information among countries within the region toward contributing to the improvement of small-scale goat meat and milk production, and to poverty alleviation and the attainment of improved food quality and livelihood especially in the developing countries.
In many Asian countries, important fisheries resources have reached a critical level due to over-fishing, aggravated fishing environment, and global climatic changes. This serious decrease in fisheries resources has shifted people's attention to aquaculture development, making it the most popular and fastest growing industry in the coastal zone. However, the growth of aquaculture in the coastal zones causes a lot of pressure over the fragile coastal environment, which supports various key economic and subsistence activities.
This workshop aimed to promote the sharing of knowledge and experiences on improved aquaculture technologies and sustainable management in the coastal zones taking into consideration the concept of ICZM.
The Asian region has been experiencing the fastest economic growth in the world, which in turn leads to rising energy consumption patterns that approach those of industrialized countries as well as to increasing environmental pressure. The main challenge facing the region's energy sector is how to continue to provide sustainable services for economic growth without jeopardizing long-term prosperity. Hence, the quest for alternative solutions, such as exploring the full potential of biomass energy, has been growing in various degrees and extent in different countries in Asia
The overall goal of the workshop was to promote a better understanding of the importance of biomass and other organic wastes as alternative sources of energy for the future, while keeping a balance between energy production and food production.
The current use of modern biotechnology in Southeast Asia is replete with many challenges, one of which is the lack of a strong manpower capacity particularly in agricultural biotechnology in the developing countries. On this aspect, the research and development advances made by Taiwan in agricultural biotechnology and its subsequent agro-industry applications provide a fertile ground for learning for countries in Southeast Asia.
The Agricultural Biotechnology Training Workshop for Southeast Asian Countries is a follow-up activity of a training course held in 2007, intended as a continuing effort in uplifting the current thrust toward biotechnology application and promotion in the Asian region.
With the technical assistance of scientists from Taiwan, the overall goal of this three-year technology transfer program was to improve the productivity and achieve sustainable production of quality corn in the Caraga region through the extension of modern cultivation techniques and introduction of hybrid corn varieties.
The achievements of the project in promoting modern corn cultivation technologies have mobilized Caraga corn farmers to form small farmers' clusters for greater access to corn-related programs. Further improvement and sustainability of production of quality corn in the region will depend on availability of corn hybrid seeds and the introduction of small-farm machineries under a cooperative system.
Citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing or HLB) and other virus diseases have been causing considerable damage to fruit yield and quality, and have become serious constraints for the citrus industry in the ASPAC region in recent decades. These systemic diseases can only be effectively controlled by integrated measures of disease management.
Under this three-year special project to rehabilitate the citrus industry in ASPAC countries, an advanced Taiwanese technology package will be transferred first to Cambodia, and then to other countries in the region. The technology package shall include establishment and application of pathogen-free citrus foundation, and disease-indexing technique for controlling serious epidemic of citrus greening and other virus diseases.
The identification of HLB disease infection is extremely difficult because of its similarity to the symptoms of such nutrient deficiencies of Zn and Fe, and its pathogen, Diaphorina citri, cannot be cultivated on an artificial culture medium. In addition, no effective agrochemicals to control this disease are yet available. The only countermeasure to cope with HLB infection is to cut down the infected citrus trees. Therefore, early detection is very important to mitigate the damage caused by HLB infection. In view of the urgency and seriousness of this problem, this research project seeks to develop a rapid, less-costly and accurate detection of the HLB pathogen, such as the Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), a newly developed method for DNA amplification in Japan.
The Center's publication program focuses on the vast and far-reaching potential of timely and relevant scientific and technological information in agriculture in enabling small-scale farmers to achieve improved agricultural productivity, make effective use of natural resources, raise their income, and produce food that is accessible, available and affordable to all. The most recent and relevant agricultural technology and information collected by the Center through its various activities are documented and published in the forms of technical and extension bulletins, book series, newsletters, and a yearly publication on statistical agricultural indices in the region.
Meanwhile, the FFTC website and database has become an important information resource on Asian agriculture, particularly for the national extension systems in the region. The growing use of the FFTC website/publication database gave a larger number of people worldwide access to the Center's technical and practical information on sustainable agriculture.
According to FAO, "the combined effect of population growth, strong income growth, and urbanization is expected to result in almost the doubling of demand for food, feed and fibre" worldwide. In addition, global agriculture will have to cope with the growing scarcity of natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity, and the effects of climate change.
To address these challenges successfully, agriculture has to produce more efficiently, increase the productivity of the factors of production, generate higher quality products, and have better institutions and human resources and more effective public policies.
In the face of these challenges, technological innovation and international cooperation are vital keys. Hence, FFTC shall remain committed in putting premium on technology transfer activities that will create greater opportunities for the region's agriculture to become more competitive, equitable, and sustainable.
Figure 1 Work program
Figure 2 Co-sponsors
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