Thursday, December 2, 2010

ECHO Northeast India Agricultural Conference

In early October, I traveled with Laura Yoder and Abram Bicksler (both with Chiang Mai's International Sustainable Development Studies Institute as well as ECHO Asia Seed Bank advisors) for the 2010 ECHO Northeast India Agricultural Conference that was held at the Indian Centre for Agricultural Research (ICAR) Research Complex near the city of Shillong. Jointly sponsored by Northeast India Committee on Relief and Development (NEICORD), and EDGE Outreach, this was the first national/regional agricultural and community development conference to be offered by the ECHO Asia Regional Office.

Approximately 50 persons attended, including delegates from 15 Northeast India development organizations and ministries.

ICAR personnel offered topics related to agricultural technological options for enhancing livelihood options for tribal farmers, System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Integrated Crop Management as well as participatory plant breeding related to rice varieties for Northeast India.

Other presentations included a talk given by Dave Brothers about EDGE Outreach's water purification approach, Laura's introduction to farmer managed crop improvement and Abram's introduction to simple research methodologies for development workers.

Additionally, I had the chance to introduce the regional activities of ECHO and offer a presentation about green manure cover crops.

A very popular activity, also led by Laura Yoder, was a seed swap event. This session enabled crop seed and other plant material from eight regional plant varieties, as well as five types of ECHO Asia Seed Bank crops, to be exchanged among the participants.

Additionally, personnel from regional development projects, such as NEICORD and RATARC, shared case studies about the implementation of Sloping Land Agricultural Technology and FAITH Gardening in their focus communities.

The successful event would not have been possible without the facilitation of the NEICORD, particularly the involvement of Rev. Dr. H.M. Songate (CEO), and Joshi Tuisom, Manager of Relief and Development.

We're grateful for the involvement of ECHO’s partners in northeast India. This conference set the standard for future regional and national events to be held in various other locations in Asia.

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