TOA Executive Committee Meeting December 2018

14 December 2018, Vientiane, Lao PDR

EC Members and TOA Secretariat Team

1. Sonam Tashi CNR, Bhutan
2. Ayumi Matsuura IVY, Cambodia
3. Khamphoui Saythalat PADETC, Lao PDR
4. Chanthalangsy Sisouvanh RDA, Lao PDR
5. Bo Bo Lwin KMF, Myanmar
6. Supa Yaimuang AAN, Thailand
7. Narumon Paiboonsittikun TOA, Thailand
8. Dang To Kien CENDI, Vietnam

Discussion and Sharing on the 4 thematic areas and collaboration

The story mapping and Young Farmers updating

Chantalangsy: I would like to update about the phone application- the story mapping. We discussed about TOA’s strength and weakness and the story mapping can help mapping where the farmers are and what they are doing. The phone application can be trained by Mind Media, PADETC Partners, so we can train young organic farmers about this application. The application can be adapted for young organic farmers network, to see actions on the ground, therefore we would like to have farmers mapping. RDA is organizing training for young farmers on how to use this application.

Kien: Within TOA we are talking about Agriculture and some part of the forests (this dues to a big part of the SEA population (almost 200 million in population size) they are indigenous & local communities (in many cases still vulnerable and largely being marginalized, living in the upland and hill-tribes; however, their ways of lives included forestry-related and hence ecosystem and agricultural practices have been largely ignored and thus, should be included in the TOA regional framework for Agro-ecology for All)., also talking about the regional level, how we want to see this story mapping. For me theme on story mapping is very interested in not only the community forests preservation, but also on young farmers networking/mapping. It means that we will build the database or the directory, to upscale our platform by setting up each country locations and names and stories from each young farmer’s initiative (if everyone in every country feels the need to do so). For specifically the theme on community forests preservation, we would be interested to see how CENDI and RDP and PADECT can be connected on this theme so that we can engage further community forests preservation actions.

Ayumi: For the using, farmers upload the information or access to the information.

Chantalangsy: Farmers can do both upload their own sorties, and see other people information. We are trying to encourage people to upload information / progress about their farm.

Khamphoui: Hopefully, in the next meeting RDA can present the result of story mapping, the presenting of data and how young farmers work on it. So far, RDA had train 2 batches of young people, a few people are interested and using it, and there is a potential to work more on this.

Bo Bo: We are talking about mobile phone application, KMF recently launch the phone application (in Burmese Language), we call it Eco-Centric, the objective is the famers can access to the information about organic farming technology, seeds law, land law, and some new issues that farmers should be aware of. People can register by using phone number, email, or facebook. In the future, we also want to do consultation online.

Sonam: The online application, we need be patient. From my experience about farmers, what is the benefit for this? In Bhutan, it started by government, additionally there are phone free numbers. If farmer has any problem like disease or pet issue they can call the numbers and will get advise for what to do. It’s very helpful because farmers have solutions at anytime. One thing to be considered is the market. Farmers have to produce and cannot really store the product when the price doesn’t really make sense to them. And because of that many famers just chop cabbages and give to cattle. Therefore how could we connect farmers to the markets, also reduce the middleman who take benefit more than farmers. Maybe we can think about how online system can be utilized for this. Ayumi: In Cambodia, from my experience, we don’t have a group of young farmers and a few people have access to smart phone, and if they have they use facebook because it’s easy to use. Farmers can upload picture of their farm and product, it also help them to connect with consumers. This we can make the market through the facebook. Some farmers can go to another level. ECCO is doing a market research for the information that should be on the application.

TOA Slogan: Organic Food for All and Wellbeing

Kien: I would like to talk about TOA slogan, we should have the word “wellbeing”, and it should be the theme. Today, we talked about the livable Laos, how do we live, and wellbeing seems to be the topic that we could put into our vision for 5-year time or 10-year time

Sonam: Also, to reflect from today speech that we should rely on local resources, local expertise, and local vision this is very powerful. We should discuss and think about self-reliance.

Narumon: We use “Organic Food for All” to promote that all people in the society can access to organic food.

Ayumi: Wellbeing is a good world, and having Organic Food for All could be a part of Wellbeing, to have good health.

Supa: I’m thinking that this slogan (Organic Food for All) we can use for campaign. Not the organization slogan

GMOs issue and Seeds

Kien: The debate on GMOs issue, I would like to propose that we continue seeing as the common threats at the regional level in 2019. From our last meeting May 2018, CENDI saw the threats of GMO in Vietnam, and more importantly, associated with GMO is the spread of Glyphosate (the herbicide that impact on animal, pregnant woman, water pollution and other social-economic aspects). I think we had this issue in the region. CENDI, in collaboration with TOA, organized Multi-stakeholders meeting in Hanoi, we had almost 40 participants, and some of them are very key at the national level, from the national assembly and the ministry of land. We had a big group of farmers from the area that affected by GMOs. After the meeting, VDO was conducted where GM corn and spray of herbicide, then in September 2018 the national TV crew made a documentary about the 2 sides of a coin on GMO.

Narumon: I support your idea on GMO, you also get support from international community, GRAIN and MASIPAG were there during the Multi-stakeholders meeting.

I also see the important of local network, the support from international we could help organize for the resources person to link with local network who would work for this issues together. 

Supa: The experience from Thailand can be shared; we have local network working on GMOs issue. BioThai started from information and research on GMOs and Chemical used, later on we have Thai PAN. There were campaign on Facebook, website and other media. Working with consumers and farmers, blood test and checking the chemical used and contaminations in the product. This is an example on how to start the campaign and get people join in the network.

Kien: This is a meaningful advice and can be done locally. But Vietnam is a communist country, when you have the law or something pushing at the policy level, thing can easily stop or review. Therefore, CENDI chose the advocacy path i.e. informing policy makers and progressive thinkers to realize the issues on GMO; whilst at the same time inviting friends / international network /alliance to share on their experiences so that alerting local policy makers to do something.

Supa: In term of information, the effect of GMOs to the economy system when we export the product to other countries, such as Europe. If we have this kind of information we can have more discussion and get government intention. In Thailand, we also have the collaboration with Health Department, the unsafe food is now important to everyone, there are many heath problems- cancer and high blood pressure- and these are related to food. For Thai government, they now aware of the unsafe food because the company said that thy export food to other country and has the issue with the regulation. This information is very useful for us to check. When it effect to the economy then the government will come up and listen to us.

Bo Bo: I think, GMOs issue should be very widely, and regional voice should come up to be heard.

Supa: For the regional network, we can have research together, to link this issue with poverty and how to reduce the inequality. The GMOs makes people poor, so we can study on this, we can have study in Myanmar and Vietnam and share information.  This way of working we talk to the farmers first.

Chantalangsy: How about the seeds and local seeds? In Laos we cannot talk about GMOs but we know that the local seeds are disappeared.

Supa: When WTO talked about intellectually property guide. I went to the village there were just 2 varieties of rice; we did a research with farmers and tried to save the rice varieties, so we now have more than 100 verities of rice in the village. In addition, we can study the positive thing for our activity.

Chantalangsy: Just to give you the example, our project spent almost 10,000 dollars to buy vegetable seeds from China, Vietnam and Thailand to give to villagers. We try to look for the local seeds but we couldn’t buy it from the company. This is another issue we are facing.

Sonam: There are two things that I would like to add on today. One is the multi-stakeholders meeting; we need to really initiate what was suggested to strengthening our network, also we need to continue providing information to the media, engaged with the media. Second thing, in addition to the research, there are enough evidenced on GMOs / GM crop. Particularly, we need to argue from the aspect, which actually help the formers, to tackle the issue from the rural perspective.

Khamphoui: In Laos, we cannot talk about GMOs issue, we can talk about organic seeds but cannot talk about GMOs as such. Firstly, no one wants to talk about it. Secondly, we have no expertise. And thirdly, this is monopolised by the government, or company. Luckily we can speak and understand Thai, so we have learned from Thailand about the GMOs. There is research that we watch Thai TV more than 80%, we rely very much from Thai side.

Supa: Another thing related on seeds is Climate Change. We now cannot grow / produce Chinese vegetable (cabbage, carrot) because it’s very sensitive to the climate, and we have to bring back the local variety of vegetable. This could be another research and it’s very important for farmers to preserve the seeds. We could have knowledge exchange and knowledge platform to work on seeds.

Communication Channel

Khamphoui: I term of communication, I felt there is a gap and we over use email. My suggestion is we can use WhatsApp, which is faster and friendly. This could be on debated. Secondly, we use Dropbox for sharing the document and get our comment.

Ayumi: It should depend on the topic also, if its not urgent, I rather don’t want to disturb by the smart phone. Some thing that we can wait for a few day it could be email.

Conclusion for communication channel, to create: WhatsApp, Facebook (for EC members and working groups), Email group for EC members and working groups, and Dropbox.

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