The overall goal of this project is to incorporate the experiences of recent and ongoing training, education and research projects with sustainable and environmentally conscious processes into the upland agriculture curricula and training programs. Several institutions in GMS region are currently offering such programs.
In pursuing this project, we seek
We plan to produce instructional modules that will include background information together with one or more problems that can be used for lectures and discussions, assigned as homework problems, or field research at home country. These materials will be designed to progressively increase participants' awareness of, as well as skills in dealing with, the environmental impact of upland agriculture production and marketing systems. The new course materials will be tested at key institutions in the GMS to assess the overall influence of the curriculum improvements. Finally, we seek to provide short-term training programs that show participants how this new training and education concepts and materials can be implemented to improve upland communities. We hope that two new short-term training programs are expected. Thus, we hope to produce upland agriculture professionals who are equipped with the systems thinking and practices, awareness, knowledge and ability to minimize the environmental impact of the upland agriculture processes that they oversee and involve.
Needs for Upland Agriculture Training?
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) comprises Cambodia , the People's Republic of China , Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar , Thailand , and Viet Nam . The upland area of GMS is defined as areas between 300- 3,000 m above mean sea level . With great diversity of environment and people, the GMS provide special learning environment for future generations to wisely modify the upland areas with strong relationships with the lowland area in different cultures. Traditional learning and education system is challenged by the modern Internet and other information technology, which give rise to more exploitation of the upland areas with fragile environment and production potential.
Agriculture is the most important economic sector in GMS countries. Agriculture can contribute to the upland communities in the areas by decreasing the land area required for farming and/or diverting human labor from forest exploitation activities. On average 75% of the population is engaged in agriculture, aquaculture, and agro-forestry. The agricultural policies viewing the sector having a role in feeding the domestic demand (food self-sufficiency) or in generating the income to purchase food (food security) vary from country to country. e.g., Laos and Vietnam stress food self-sufficiency whereas Thailand has further liberalized the agricultural economy aiming at food security.
Naturally, upland and lowland agriculture are multifaceted—producers of essential commodities and services, users of common resources, and subject to environmental changes, social values, and ethical backgrounds. Newly trained degree holders in food, agriculture, and natural resources increasingly find that their jobs place them in dynamic, user-oriented demanding, and environmental concerns. In order to deal with these kinds of situations, professionals entering the field need new competencies and inquiry methodologies. They need an array of “system thinking and practice principles and practical tools” of inquiry approaches to help them understand, predict, and act on the interactions, and complexity of situations in ways that are conceptually valid and practically effective and efficient. Faculty of Agriculture at Chiang Mai University under the Agricultural Systems Master Program provides such training requirements in which graduate can systematically applied in their situations.
|©2006 Multiple Cropping Center, Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 50200|