The second seed fair related to the CRSP Hort Exploratory grant awarded to Pennsylvania State University, ECHO and Mae Jo University was held in the remote Mae Yao area of Chiang Rai province (northern Thailand) on February 29. Similar to the first seed swap event held a month prior in the Chiang Dao district of Chiang Mai, 30 persons (22 women and eight men) from four local communities brought seeds for exchange. The half-day event included registration and a brief training/discussion related to improved seed production and saving techniques.
In comparison to the Chiang Dao activity, the CRSP team noticed significantly more interaction and exchange of seeds among the Mae Yao participants. As there is greater distance between the four communities that were represented as well as more ethnic diversity (i.e. Black Lahu, Yellow Lahu and Akha), seeds saved from garden crops being grown in that area might be more diverse compared to those in the Palaung communities of Chiang Dao. If so, greater crop diversity may have stimulated more interest in seed exchange.
The final CRSP-sponsored seed fair will be held in Cambodia during the last week of March.
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.