PART - II
Dr B K Mukhopadhyay
Exports of organically-grown agricultural products to the western world are increasing. Vegetables, fruits, and spices grown without fertilizers and pesticides bring premium prices, thereby enhancing the economic viability of these production units. Nevertheless, the lack of research and extension programs on organic farming is the principal constraint to the development of productive and profitable organic farming in Sri Lanka, as rightly assessed by U. R. Sangakkara and S. Katupitiya, attached to the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
One very interesting development is the way bilateral cooperation has been expanding in the are of rural development. Very recently Vietmese and Cambodian forestry administrations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost co-operation. Accordingly, the two countries will enhance exchange of information, knowledge and experience in designing and implementing forestry-related strategies and programmes; strengthen co-operation in forest fire magement, timber and wildlife transport and trade controlling, forest magement and protection over a period of five years.
What is more: the two countries will carry out activities to adapt to the changes of intertiol timber markets to raise public awareness on forest resource protection and to better implement regiol and intertiol commitments towards forestry. The two countries would make joint efforts in law enforcement in forest magement as well as forest product trade to monitor and prevent cross-border transportation of illegal timber, especially along their shared border areas.
The emerging fact is, therefore, fundamental changes in priorities and strategies are needed over the next two decades if current trends are to be reversed, especially with a view to: alleviating poverty, by emphasizing the production of basic goods and services and by generating income to meet basic needs; protecting the environment, by conserving and rehabilitating watersheds, arresting land degradation and desertification and conserving biological diversity.
Time is ripe for adopting practical realistic strategies that could ensure food, water and energy security. This involves (i) empowering key actors and enhancing positive action by assigning top priority to the public sector and ebling it to play a leading role in creating conditions for all stakeholders to function effectively; (ii) supporting the development of an effective and transparent market mechanism; (iii) improving the efficiency of the informal sector by providing legal, institutiol and other support mechanisms.
Specific attention must be paid to improving strategic planning capacities at the tiol and sub-regiol level, as rightly pointed out by the FAO. The aim is to promote and encourage actions to improve agriculture’s contributions to economic growth and hunger reduction.
Fighting against the effects of climate change through Climate Smart Agriculture, of course remains at the top. Voices should be raised over trans-border forest protection. Vietm’s call on this score deserves mentioning here. ‘The ASEAN community must co-operate more profoundly at all levels to promote sustaible forest magement and development- the use of forest land for hydro-power plants, roads and agricultural production had reduced the quality and quantity of tural forest. Illegal logging and trading in wildlife were still popular pursuits.
Countries should share information, experiences and effective policies to help each other. Yes, the destruction of forest land for other economic purposes occurred in many ASEAN countries. The forest coverage in ASEAN tions is around 48 per cent, which is 19 per cent higher than in the rest of Asia. Laos has the highest coverage with 67 per cent - and Singapore the lowest with three per cent. Viet m ranked seventh with 42 per cent. Viet m signed a co-operation agreement with Cambodia and Laos on trans-border forestry protection and illegal logging prevention.
It is good that Philippines is now coming to terms with Vietm regarding the massive construction of hydro-power plants and cocoa farms on former forest land. Both countries agree that increases in the price of timber products will prevent people from eradicating forest land for other crops.
It has rightly been opined that ‘today’s agricultural situation is plainly one of squandered resources. Even America, often called the “land of plenty” and “breadbasket of the world,” is now a major food importer besieged with soil erosion, unpredictable weather patterns, inflated prices and farm bankruptcies in a world of food shortages and intertiol tensions competing for resources. The “Green Revolution” of Norman Borlaugh’s day only served to delay the growing crisis.’
(The Writer, a noted Magement Economist; Principal, Eminent College of Magement and Technology and an Intertiol Commentator on Business and Economic Affairs, can be reached at email@example.com)