During the USAID-funded Hort CRSP Exploratory Survey that took place in two village clusters in northern Thailand, and another in southwest Cambodia, earlier this year, we came across quite a few interesting crop varieties (mainly vegetables) grown by farm families. The ECHO Asia Seed Bank team selected several of these varieties, such as this black seed, short-pod velvet bean, to evaluate. Our criteria was to focus on crops/varieties that are desirable, rare and/or have reported outstanding traits, such as high productivity and good flavor. Many of these finds have already been planted out in the seed bank plots with data and observations currently being recorded.
Hopefully, this effort will yield more regionally appropriate crops for the ECHO Asia Seed Bank to distribute among our network.
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.