Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Friends Like Nam Saeng

I’ve known Nam Saeng for well over a decade. Farming several acres of hilly land in the Chiang Dao district of northern Thailand, he’s an agricultural jack-of-all-trades and a master of many including agroforestry, green manure cover cropping and backyard farming.

Nam Saeng isn’t one to keep trade secrets. He cheerfully accepts visits from farmers and development workers. And it’s obvious that he believes in the power of exchange. By sharing his practical farming knowledge with others, Nam Saeng ultimately gains more useful information; plus friends.

ECHO Asia is one of Nam Saeng’s friends. Many of our regional partners have made the trip to his mountain farm to learn from his work.

I’m encouraged by the fact that he isn’t one of a kind. All across Asia, whether in the uplands, the river deltas, along the coasts or even in the cities, there are others like him. In each place there are farmers who are overcoming various challenges to produce food and improve incomes, and also enthusiastically share what they know.

Nam Saeng may not be fully aware of the extent his helpfulness. But with over 1 billion chronically hungry people in the world (most of whom live in Asia), I believe that it is imperative for ECHO Asia, and our regional agricultural development partners, to nurture working relationships with such innovative small farmers who possess the zeal to share.

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