SEARCA participates in the 4th International Conference on Conservation Agriculture in Cambodia
Dr. Bessie M. Burgos presenting the conservation agriculture initiatives of SEARCA.
BATTAMBANG, Cambodia — SEARCA delegates presented on "Conservation Agriculture and Capacity Building toward Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development in Southeast Asia" at the recently concluded Fourth International Conservation Agriculture Conference in Southeast Asia. The conference was held at the University of Battambang in Battambang Province, Kingdom of Cambodia on 9-13 December 2013.
Themed "Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Crop Production Intensification: Producing More while Enhancing Ecosystem Services", experts from Asia and the Pacific, Africa, the Americas and Europe convened and discussed new and emerging technologies and best practices that are embodied within the principles of conservation agriculture (CA). These include sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture (SOEA) practices where the basic premise is producing food while mimicking the forest ecosystem and maintaining a high level of biological diversity in agro-ecosystems through minimum soil disturbance, continuous mulching and diversification of species. The CA model is an offshoot of the sustainable crop production intensification(SCPI) concept, which was coined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2011.
SEARCA's presentation was authored by Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA Director, Dr. Bessie M. Burgos,
The SEARCA Team with CANSEA members.Acting Program Head for Research and Development, Dr. Maria Celeste H. Cadiz, Program Head for Knowledge Management, and Mr. Henry M. Custodio, Program Specialist for Research and Development, and is the result of a review and analysis of various capacity building initiatives of SEARCA in support of, or aligned with, CA. Upland agriculture, ecosystems approach to project planning and implementation, sustainable agriculture technologies, agro-ecosystems dynamics, and climate change mitigation and adaptation are some of the relevant focus areas of SEARCA's graduate scholarship, research and development and knowledge management projects and activities that were presented. SEARCA's upcoming Tenth Five-Year Plan (10th FYP) was highlighted in the presentation, wherein the Center plans to diversify into action research via ground-level intervention, including CA for addressing food security in an uncertain environment.
During the conference, the participants also visited a number of experimentation plots in the upland farms of Battambang Province as well as women farmers in Siem Reap who are already practicing conservation agriculture. USAID-SANREM technicians demonstrated how conservation agriculture practices prevent or minimize soil erosion and surface run-off, increase water retention of soil, and various technologies like mechanized seed planters that are modified for zero-tillage.
Various side meetings were also attended by the SEARCA delegation including the Conservation Agriculture Network for Southeast Asia (CANSEA) Steering Committee meeting, where SEARCA was invited as an observer, and where the Center's possible participation in CANSEA was discussed. The SEARCA delegation also met with Dr. Touch Visalsok, Cambodia Undersecretary of State for Education, Youth, and Sports, and current author of the 2ndEdition of the Southeast Asian Agriculture and Development Primer Series for Cambodia. Dr. Visalsok briefed the SEARCA team on the progress of the Cambodia Primer. Mr. Jean-Claude Legoupil of CIRAD and CANSEA and Dr. Puvadol Doydee of Kasetsart University, who was a SEARCA scholar in UPLB, discussed the possibility of partnering with SEARCA for a series of training events on conservation agriculture in some countries of Southeast Asia. Lastly, Dr. Manuel R. Reyes, Professor of Biological Engineering at the North Carolina A&T State University, finalized the details of his team's planned visit to SEARCA in January 2014.
The SEARCA team was composed of Dr. Burgos, Dr. Cadiz and Mr. Custodio. (Henry M. Custodio)
Farm demonstration of seed planter for zero-tillage technology.
Demonstration on the improvement of water retention capacity of soils using conservation agriculture practices.
 Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Project
 Centre International de Reseaux Agriculture and Development (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development)