Over 35 persons from Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and beyond met in a simple training hall on the Partners Thailand farm just outside of Chiang Mai. They were participating in the Three-Day Tropical Agriculture Workshop co-hosted by the ECHO Asia Regional Office and Partners Thailand from January 19-21, 2011. Participants gained hands-on training related to grafting fruit trees, the production of moringa and its products, soap making for development, natural farming of pigs and backyard mushroom production. Additionally, a vermiculture training session, led by Dr. Arnat Tancho, was held nearby on the campus of Mae Jo University.
Other sessions were led by Betsy Langford (former ECHO intern and currently a student at Chiang Mai University's SAIWAM Program), Partners personnel, Boonsong Thansrithong, Sombat Chalermliamthong and Dorothy Kahn, as well as myself.
Feedback from meeting participants indicated that the event was a success. Following this recent exchange of knowledge and skills related to agriculture and community development, I'm certain that participants will be extending what they have learned among their own local networks. Furthermore, I am excited about offering similar workshops for development workers in other Asian countries, beginning with Cambodia in 2012.
ECHO Asia is extremely grateful to Partners Thailand and Mae Jo University for their significant involvement in this event.
A lot of people are working to bring positive change to communities, societies and the world. But in our business it's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees. Working with the ECHO Asia Impact Center, I've been blessed with a certain vantage point. It's my goal to shed light on the good and practical that's being done to improve the circumstances of Asia's poor.
My wife, Ellen, and I have spent most of that past 25 years in S.E. Asia. In addition to earning BS and MS degrees in Plant and Soil Science (University of Tennessee), I spent two years (1985-1986) as an agricultural intern at the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center in the Philippines. Two years after our family moved to Thailand in 1994, we established the Upland Holistic Development Project (www.uhdp.org). UHDP focuses on improving the livelihoods of resource-poor upland families along the Thai-Burma border. Finally in 2009, we opened the ECHO Asia Impact Center in Chiang Mai, extending the presence and efforts of ECHO, based in Ft. Myers, Florida.