1 – 2 April 2017, Maejo University, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Spiritual Compass of NextGEN
TOA in collaboration with Maejo University organized the International Integrated Conference- Asia Today.
In our learning journey and pursuing happy society, we are small minority and face a lot of obstacles; we question why we are doing this. So, in our TOA we have been working a lot with young organic farmers, when the young farmers ask this question to themselves “Why am I doing this?” And sometimes they say we have to be crazy to be an organic farmer. In this situation, it’s important that today we have an elderly, Satish Kumar, to review about the Spiritual Compass.
Satish was born in Rajasthan, India. At the age of 9 years old he joined Jain Monastery, and at age of 18 years old he joined the Gandhi Movement, in particular Vinoba Bhave to promote the land reformed. From the mean of the walk, he and his friends walked to 4 cities,Moscow, London, Paris, and Washington to deliver the peace message. Later on,he walked to London and started Schumacher College, Resurgence Magazine, and Small School (and alternative school for children). He is also an author of many books includes: No Destination, Your Are Therefore I Am, Earth Pilgrim,and Spiritual Compass.
Below is the youtube link for the morning session, including Satish Kumar Keynote Speech.
Workshop “NextGEN for Organic Movement and Organic Seeds
Country Update: Myanmar by Gum Sha Aung and Bo Bo Lwin
In Myanmar, there is Metta Development Foundation is working on these issues. What we are doing on Seeds, food and cultures are:
- Reclaiming local food autonomy (seeds, land, forest, local knowledge, biodiversity etc.)
- Influencing on government policy
- Seeds is life and support to seed defender and seed saver
- Promote: keep seed free, seed as common, seed fair, seed exchange
- Farmer movement network, and women roles are the keys
Country Update: Cambodia by Vitou Sam and Viseth Kong
Talking about the agricultural sector, there are 80% of populations living in rural area, and 67% of the population are farmer. At that time, food crisis was the main challenge, so in 1997 there is a local organization focusing on food security. CEDAC started to apply System Rice Intensification (SRI) to the farmers around 100,000 families. That’s a success point for CEDAC of introducing a new rice planting system to farmers because the rice yield of farmers has been increasing from year to year. Thus, the Ministry of agriculture in Cambodia sets SRI as their national strategy plan in order to introduce this new method to farmers across country. The successes of rice productions have made CEDAC moving to focus on other vegetable productions. CEDAC have started a young agro-entrepreneur program that is last for 6 months to 1 year.
IVY stands for International Volunteers of Yamagata is an organization working on assisting farmers to produce organic rice and vegetables in Cambodia especially, located in Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, and Preah Vihear province. IVY work is focusing on climate change, which causes the problem to the agriculture. CEDAC and IVY happen to help farmer producing organic product to supply in the local.
Country Update: Laos by Khamphoui Saythalat
There are 85% of farmers living in rural area. The main crop of the agriculture is sticky rice. In Lao, there is a local organization that works with farmer on the agricultural sector focusing on Human Resource Development.In 1980, PADETC promoted food security by making RIFS project in 13 provinces.In 1990, Laos adopts a new market economy, so there were many problems in the agricultural sector. For example, land grabbing issues happen in Lao, so the big companies start to plant only one crop on the big land size and also using many fertilizers. Thus, it is harmful to local seed production. There are 2 organic markets in Vientiane facilitated by PADETC in order to promote local supply.
Country Update: Bhutan by Dr. Sonam Tashi
There are 60% of the populations involving in agriculture.Currently, Bhutan wants to reach the target as an organic country. Among the figure above, there is less than 5% of population involving in agro-chemical.The government always supports the organic agricultural practice. There are two main challenges in the agriculture sector. First, people in rural area move to work in the city. Talking about migration, it is not only happened in Bhutan,but also in many countries in Southeast Asia. Thus, in the agriculture sector,labor shortage is the main problem. Second, quality organic seeds are producing in the small scale. Nowadays, Bhutan imports seeds from neighboring countries especially, India.
Country Update: Thailand by Mathana and Pavinee
In Thailand, there are 20 members working on five seeds banks,which cover on the Southern, Northern, and Eastern area. Seed bank started from the idea of seed exchange. There are 3 rules in seeds bank group, 1) seeds to seeds, 2) give seed to people for free early and then they return back the seeds, 3) people buy seeds. They invested 500,000 THB to start organic seeds company, and they want all seed seller in the market selling organic in order to take care customer health and the environment as a whole. Nowadays, there are 223 varieties of seed at the seeds bank. The important things of creating seed bank are for food security, encouraging villagers who save seed, and taking care environment via organic seed.
After the presentation of each country, there was a small discussion about seeds situation in each country. The TOA members suggested and agreed to have seeds exchange among TOA members because some countries can produce good quality seeds while the others countries cannot do that, for the further collaboration toward organic movement in Asia Gum Sha Aung mentioned, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” and Vitou Sam mentioned, “yesterday is a history, tomorrow is mystery and today is gift- we call it present.”