TOA Executive Committee Meeting January 2018

23 January 2018, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

TOA EC Meeting 2018

List of Participants

Name Organization Country
1 Sonam Tashi College of Natural
2 Sam Vitou CEDAC Cambodia
3 Chanthalangsy Sisouvanh Rural Development
4 Sai Sam Kham Metta Development
5 Keadtisak Yangyuen Alternative Agriculture
6 Hans van Willenswaard     School for Wellbeing Thailand
7 Wallapa van WillenswaardSuan Nguen Mee Ma Thailand
8 Kittikhun Bhukhongkha TOA Thailand
9 Narumon Paiboonsittikun TOA Thailand
10 Sujintra Anan TOA Thailand
11 Dang To KienCENDIVietnam

Review proposal 2018 and 4 thematic working groups

Action Research and Advocacy / Technical Support and Exchange

Kien– At the last meeting in OWC in India they organized the separated session just to dedicate on seed. In that session everyone was talking about uncontrollable, undetectable genetic engineering methods. IFOAM hasn’t set a motion no. 79, to detect on the contamination of the herbicide first; they were unable to control the technology company. For TOA level, it really makes sense in the advocacy by kind of action research but it can be technical as well. We need to have technical support as well. My issue is that, we need your support about many technical professionals to target the message of the impact of GMOs on biodiversity. And I think Vietnam doesn’t have a law on seeds.

Mon– TOA plan in 2018, we would like to propose a meeting in Vietnam for multi-stakeholder meeting on GMOs issue. It’s supposed to happen last week of May or June.

Sonam– I think we don’t need technical persons as such because there are so many data, which show how GMOs is not good for us. And even if they know, some people, for example a lot of my students, favor GMOs because it helps them to achieve a lot of food production. We should focus on how to make it attractive in the point that by adopting GMOs we are losing food sovereignty and self-sustainability. How does GMOs bring long-term non-sustainability? The main argument supporting GMOs is the increase of population. How can we come up with argument that can address this kind of disadvantage of GMOs performance?

Sam– in Myanmar we have law and policy regarding with seeds. The policy is not effective yet. Myanmar tends to sign UPOV 91; the Chinese company really helps Myanmar government to go on that path. In order to sign UPOV 91, Myanmar needs to change seed law and now we changed law without caring about the public. From the previous law, farmers were allowed to sell seeds up to some limitation, but now the farmers cannot sell seed to anyone. And they didn’t tell this to the people. Since 6-7 years ago we drafted seed safety law, but they just change the law because they want to sign UPOP 91 and because of some pressure form the companies. Regarding with GMOs, Myanmar really relies on imported seeds. And a lot of seeds are also imported from Thailand. Even if we don’t produce GMOs in our country but we have GMOs not only in production but also trading. In terms of seeds, Metta is also working in 2 different channels, one is working in collaborations with SeedRights which is South East Asia association focusing on seeds. They also work in Vietnam. They work with seed producer farmers. In terms of technical support, we have some resources there. Other channel is engaging in food sovereignty to promote it in Myanmar. We also engage in regional food sovereignty network based in Philippines. My point is, it is important to talk about GMOs or seed but we also have to be somehow political engaged with some other networks. And other point is that we have some technical resources in our network.

Chanthalangsy– In Laos we don’t produce GMOs seeds but we also import them from Thailand and Vietnam. About the meeting in Laos, we are going to have PADECT fair on the 2nd March, so the meeting for the next TOA partner in Laos can be held in 2018. In Laos we also produce video about the impact of banana plantation on women.

Bao– In Thailand the government and some companies are trying to amend law to allow importation of GMOs. 

Mon– We discussed about GMOs and seeds issue under 2 themes of TOA which are advocacy and technical support. For further collaborate and concrete action we should arrange and collaborate for a meeting in Vietnam.  We will wait for the response from Vietnam for further procedures.

Wallapa– The government wants to have more money from agriculture part, so they choose to have GMOs and ignore exchange among small-scale farmers. We have to advocate more that exchange among small-scale farmers is also effective in different way.

Kien– I want to support Wallapa in looking more at wellbeing. In Vietnam, it is already happening, we can see the impact of spraying herbicide in vegetables. Pregnant women can have miscarriage. They keep selling pesticide and herbicide. We have wrong message saying that GMOs bring food security and self-sufficiency.

Capacity Building and Youth / Consumer Education and Marketing

Mon – Last year YOF was held trip in Bhutan, the learning of the youth group has been focusing on seed production as well. We appreciated the support from CNR and would like to continue the exchange in Bhutan regularly. From YOF in Bhutan, there was discussion about young organic farmers and organic farmers; TOA is working, strengthening, and widening the network of both.

Sonum– For YOF, it was something that we can look back and learn from that. Next year we can select students from nearby school to come and join.

Wallapa– It’s important for us to discuss, how can we visit Dilip organic seeds SE in such a way that we can further his work and make his work come to reality? How to operationalize his project? What is the benefit for visiting Dilip? Is it possible that Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam will benefit his project and Dilip can provide organic seeds to our work? Do the networks outside Bhutan see something important there?

Vitou– In Cambodia many seeds are imported because we cannot produce by ourselves. Then the source of seed is really important.

Chanthalangsy– Nowadays seed collecting is not the culture, we normally buy packs of seeds because of the demand.

Wallapa– The campaign on indigenous vegetable is very important. If we go to Dilip, what kind of input or exchange that we should organize?

Kien – I want to respond to Wallapa’s question about visiting Bhutan, last time when we went to the trip we bought seeds from Dilip. If we bring every country in, it will benefit community-based initiative like Dilip’s project. Yes, if you can’t regenerate all the variety, why don’t we buy them? We should think about seeds theme crossing these countries to communicate in a popular version story telling of seeds as well.

Wallapa– In terms of variety of vegetables, I observe that, in Thailand we have native indigenous vegetables first, later on we have Chinese vegetables and now we have western vegetables. How to make your food is the question because for new generation they don’t know how to cook food from native vegetables anymore.

Sonam– The Organic Agriculture Curriculum in CNR, we have one module on organic seed production once a year, this is on the 2nd year already. For one whole semester is during mid February – mid June.

Wallapa– It’s a good plan to continue on seeds, hope our works and activities will build on top of Tsirang project.

Mon– Summer school will be held from 21 July to 4 August.

Wallapa– By the way, the 5th mindful markets course will be held on 11-24 September and the forum will be held on 15-16 September.

General Activity and Organization Development

Mon – About GNH conference in France, which will be held on the 6th – 8th June, we met with Nicola and talked about this, she is very positive to support us to make it happen. On the first week of March we will know the final plan.

Kien– We also received the same information about this directly from CCFD. Madam Lanh was invited for this conference and she will present about cases of wellbeing form the indigenous setting.

TOA three-year vision (2019 – 2021)

Mon –This agenda, to put our vision and mission together, what we would like to see and achieve in the next 3 years.

Wallapa– Since our mindful markets forum facilitators came from many countries, in Mekong region and Bhutan, we also have our friends from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia. So, for the next three years vision, I want to extend it to these 6 countries by having the forum in order to facilitate that and also more cases which can really run the social enterprise in such a way that it really resolve social problems.

Chanthalangsy– This year for PADETC, we organize the intensive training course for 4 months called “professional community leadership program”, inside that we put organic agriculture as the key learning for young people. I think one of strategies is to keep going to support young farmers. It should be also the non-farmers. The same as my research, another strategy is to raise awareness to build capacity building for young rural people to involve in the organic farming linking to the social enterprise in their areas. It is what I want to see. 

Kien– I think the point is who is the target. We should extend the area of target to not only young and not only farmers but it should be also “Interested public” which is beyond the farmers.

Vitou– I support the idea of Kien about interested public. Also, we can expand it into outside our region. We should join the big event in Nuremberg in Germany at the event “BioFech” in February. We need to join to show the movement in Asia. We can register as visitors. People in Panom Pehn they buy some lands and we organize organic farming series for them. We do it regularly. They come and they pay. We set up also Cambodian organic producers association, which is linking all producers together in the country and then we are going to register us as the business associate rather than as the farmer association. And also, another wider range is Cambodian organic food and agriculture association, which includes consumer producer and policy maker. We can bring them together to have free talk about food and organic food and so on. I think this can be the point to be considered in our network as well.

Sam– we are going to register Metta as a company because we don’t have any law about social enterprise. But there are still some bureaucratic procedures that we need to concern about. Basically we are thinking about producing ginger tea, organic rice and organic seeds. In Myanmar we also promote green building. Also we have 2 training centers and now we are going to establish the next one in south Asia because south Asia is very important agriculture area where a lot of heavy chemical being used and we are trying to promote organic farming there. At national level, we are facing a threat related to the issue like investor protecting investment that the EU and Myanmar government are negotiating. That will bring international property right and also require Myanmar to have plant protection. And Myanmar is going to sign UPOV 91. These are the big challenge at the national level. Another one is China needs to develop their land lock place and wants to use Myanmar as their backyard for resources and other things.

We are going to invest more on public movements to work at the community level and grass root level because advocacy is getting more difficult. Even if we change the policy, the general public will not follow. With TOA, I still think that we need support from you about social enterprise. Also, mindful markets course is something we would like to bring to Myanmar.

Sonam– according to my study, more than 96% of people want organic to be developed but people are also skeptic against this. With TOA, we have 2 activities; one was about organic seed visiting Dilip, in the coming year, I think we need to support Dilip to expand activities to procreate traditional seeds. In the climate perspective, we need to support native seed. And, how can we come up with the farming system to fight with GMOs? We have to concern about farm management/ farm resilience.

Kien– Advocacy should be targeting with GMOs and linking up with the ASEAN people. We should focus on individual entrepreneur or family-based and community-based. We can send someone to learn from small farm. PGS is also important. CENDI thinks about specialize in three Eco-products, which are pepper, honey and brown rice. I think I also need to learn what is the social enterprise.

EC membership and TOA working group mentorship

The last EC meeting in Mae Jo University we already planed about this, but still need the confirmation from Laos and Vietnam. (Both Kien and Chantharangsy accepted).

1. Kesang Tshomo Director of National Organic Policy (NOP)
2. Ayumi Matsuura Executive Director of IVY, Cambodia
3. Chanthalangsy Sisouvanh Director of Rural Development Agency
(PADETC Partner), Lao PDR
4. Bo Bo Lwin Managing Director of Kalyanamitta
5. Keadtisak Yangyuen Alternative Agriculture Network, Thailand
6. Dang To Kien Deputy Director of CENDI, Vietnam

Chanthalangsy– I talked to Khamphoui, if I can be one of the member here I can confirm now and I want to represent Rural Development Agency (RDA) as well. PADETC is remaining TOA parents in Laos.

Mon– I would like to consult with you, as we have an active team in the past 2 years, I hope to have the same group as a working group advisers and mentors as follows (partners agreed):

– Vitou Sam  Capacity Building and Youth
– Gum Sha Aung Action Research and Advocacy.
– Sonam Tashi  Technical Support and Exchange
– Wallapa Consumer Education and Marketing

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