About the Impact Center

NepalMay2017
Building a biochar stove at the Nepal Agriculture & Community Development Workshop, May 2017

ECHO Asia, a regional extension arm of ECHO, exists to equip and empower workers in agriculture and community development so that they can be more effective in their work with smallholder farmers and the poor in Asia to improve food security and livelihoods.

We do this by providing free resources, information, training, and seeds to our network members residing in Asia.

To learn more about our upcoming conference in Chiang Mai in October, go to our Event Page here.


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Services

  • A quarterly release of the ECHO Asia Notes and News- technical articles on a wide variety of topics as well as information on upcoming events and happenings in the network.
  • Fostering a communal sharing of new ideas & information- we desire to “ECHO” and promote good agricultural practices happening in Asia!
  • Hosting Agriculture and Community Development events- we routinely host regional and country-wide workshops with organizational partners in order to offer context-relevant information in local languages. Upcoming events our Chiang Mai Conference in October
  • Cultivating a catalog of over 150 seeds from the Chiang Mai Thailand Seed Bank- a continuously expanding seed inventory is available and for sale on ECHOcommunity.org. Our members qualify for 10 free seed packets per year!
  • Partnering with our network to print expanded resources for sale and in our resource library.
  • Offering technical responses to field questions from network.
  • Providing on-site consultations for organizations and individuals.

Contact:

Abram Bicksler, Director

Mailing Address

Office: PO Box 64, Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand

Seed Bank: PO Box 17, Fang 50110 Thailand

Physical Address

Office: 270/5 Tung Hotel Road Soi 6, T.Watget, A.Meung, Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand

Seed Bank: 121 M.8, T. Mae Na Wang, A.Mae Ai, Chiang Mai 50280 Thailand

Asia Impact Center Updates

A Snapshot from Bangladesh: Building Farmer-Extension Relationships 2017-04-25

Contributed by: Patrick Trail

With 160 million people living in an area the size of the US state of Georgia, cropland is not an overly abundant resource in the country of Bangladesh.  In order to meet the ever growing needs of its population, it is not uncommon for farmers in this delta nation to produce 3 consecutive seasons of rice on the same piece of land in a given calendar year.  This relatively recent intensification of the land doesn’t come without its costs, and relies heavily on expensive external inputs, a dwindling of irrigation water resources, and an uninterrupted invitation extended to crop pests and diseases.

Before receiving a visit from an agricultural extension agent last year, Abdul (the farmer in the picture ), had never been introduced to or attempted to grow a Green Manure/Cover Crop (GMCC).  Unaware that cover crops offer numerous soil building benefits through Nitrogen fixation, the addition of organic matter, weed suppression, and surface temperature reduction, he likely would have been wary to give the concept a shot on his valued piece of land.  Not without the nudging of a trusted Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Bangladesh agriculturalist friend that is.

Enter the farmer-extension relationship, a key link in the agricultural value chain.  The link that connects the research and the farmer, and more importantly, the farmer’s needs to those doing research. 

Leveraging ECHO’s regional field trials of different Green Manure/Cover Crops last year, one very good agricultural extension agent was able to take the research to the farm.  By working together with Abdul Motin, he and ag extension agent Jahangir Alam were successful in many regards.  Data on the comparison of GMCC varieties was successfully obtained, supplying ECHO valuable information to be compiled and disseminated throughout its wider network (research); MCC Bangladesh improved its standing and credibility in the community through good work and an additional field demonstration site (extension); and Abdul learns a new approach to building up his soil fertility in a way that is practical and appropriate to his environment (farmer).

At the conclusion of the field trials, Jahangir suggested to Abdul that as he plant his next round of crops in the field he might try and half his regular rate of nitrogen to see for himself the benefits the legumes had provided.  Abdul did as was suggested and found that the cauliflower he planted on the GMCC portion of the field grew just as well as usual, and that in fact grew better than those on the portion of the field not receiving GMCC treatment!

A great reminder that growing better crops often starts with growing good relationships with people.

About Asia Impact Center

Despite considerable economic gains over the past three decades, due to the region's vastness, its enormous population, as well as uneven economic growth, Asia remains home to two-thirds of the world's poor. Remaining challenges related to regional poverty and food insecurity include:

More than 600 million Asians live in absolute poverty (less than $1 a day) and 2/3 of the world’s hungry people live in Asia.

Although Asia's share of the global gross domestic product is expected to approach 42 percent by 2015, the region will still be home to half of the world's poor.

Growth in rice production, Asia's staple, has slowed and rice production areas are in decline.

Growing resource scarcity (i.e., water and arable land) will increasingly constrain food production growth.

Sources:

Asian leaders issue poverty warning, International Herald Tribune, May 4, 2008; Reducing Poverty and Hunger in Asia: The Role of Agriculture and Rural Development, Edited by Nurul Islam, International Food Policy Research Institute, 2008. World Hunger Statistics, World Food Programme. 2014.