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By: Dr. Eduardo A. Sabio
Published: 2019-02-15

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 37.

Dear colleagues, friends and subscribers, you may have known that in the past couple of months,

Ed Sabio photo
Dr. Eduardo (Ed) Sabio

the leadership of ECHO Asia has been vacant due to the departure of my good predecessor, Dr. Abram Bicksler. That is not the case anymore. I am pleased to inform you that I have been designated recently as the Regional Director of ECHO Asia. And such, it is my pleasant task and distinct privilege to greet you all on behalf of my team based here in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

With deep gratitude, I wish to thank you all ECHO network members for continuous support of and participation in this ECHO Asia Notes published quarterly. Without your valuable participation, this newsletter would not sustain its wide readership and distribution, as well as its value addition to the different endeavors that we do as farmers, community development workers, teachers, managers, researchers, educators, social entrepreneurs, missionaries, trainers, leaders and others. To a significant degree, our inspiration and motives behind this quarterly publication hinge on our collective interests for information sharing, resourcing, networking and learning with and from each other. This is a public good that we, together, contribute to the greater society.

My greetings would be incomplete without introducing myself to all of you. Early on in my professional career right after completing my Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture from the Central Luzon State University in the Philippines, I got involved in Applied Research and Extension work in village communities dealing directly with farmer-cooperators. In working with these farmers, I learned a great deal of lessons and wisdom. Having been groomed with a technical lens for crops, insect pests and diseases by my University education, I came to discover the profound significance of human and social dimensions of people and communities in development work, and this newfound perspective told me that there is much more I need to know. This exposure was a wake-up call and thus a strong craving for more learning ensued. Shortly thereafter, I decided to pursue my Master’s Degree in Development Management from the University of the Philippines, with cognate courses in rural sociology and extension education, with the aim of equipping myself in an interdisciplinary manner. 

Equipped with a combination of technical knowledge and skills in agriculture, management of development programs and projects, and sociological discipline, I continued work in the field of community development, dovetailed with Action Research and International Training. As I delved into community and agricultural development programs and projects with various NGOs, Government Agencies, Research Institutions, the Academe and community-based organizations in and out of the Philippines through trainings, technical assistance, and action research, I recognized the need to build my capacity further. With a Fellowship grant from the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), I pursued my doctorate degree at Cornell University in the USA with a major field in Adult and Extension Education, and minor fields in Development Sociology, and International Agriculture and Rural Development.

My academic background, coupled with community-based practical experience, has equipped me with solid theory and practice in the fields of rural and agricultural development, training and learning, adult and extension education, development sociology, natural resources management, and action research. More specifically, I possess competences in program and partnership development, program and project management, participatory monitoring and evaluation, community-based education, community organizing, growth and development of community organizations, agro-enterprise development, livestock development, and sustainable agricultural chain development. 

Prior to joining ECHO, I held the offices of Regional Director for Rikolto (formerly VECO), based in Vietnam; Country Director for Heifer International in the Philippines; and Program Head for the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in the Philippines. My participatory, holistic and sustainable development paradigm has partly been shaped by professional experiences in at least a dozen countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

ECHO Asia is in a particularly exciting juncture at this time, with our Seed Bank recently relocated to our new Small Farm and Resource Center just about 25 minutes away from the heart of Chiang Mai. With this new site, our ability to conduct on-site trainings, applied research trials, seed production, as well as hosting conferences, is greatly enhanced. In addition, towards the latter part of this year, we plan to start-up a Regional Impact Team for South Asia. These twin initiatives are driving heightened enthusiasm among us here at the Asia team, for we will be able to contribute more to ECHO’s institutional goal of Multiplying Impact through Direct Training and Global Resourcing.

I enjoin all of you to keep actively in touch with ECHO Asia to further enliven our network, and nurture this form of social capital which we all continue to benefit from. 

Finally, I look forward to meeting most, if not all of you, directly and indirectly, as we journey together to empower our undernourished brothers and sisters in Asia with sustainable hunger solutions. Wishing peace and prosperity to all of you!