INTRODUCTION TO CANSEA

Context and Background of CANSEA

Different contexts explain the development and the dissemination of conservation agriculture in South-East Asia and thus consequently the emergence of a sub-regional network for the coordination of Conservation Agriculture activities in the region – CANSEA.

– Under the influence of rapid changes related to population growth, conditions of market integration, private or national initiatives (corn, rubber crop, Jatropha…), some agrarian systems of the Southeast Asia are undergoing rapid change. Although this change allows immediate socio-economic benefits, it has medium-term negative environmental impacts with repercussions on natural resources, the conditions of production and people’s health.

– Large areas of land have been degraded through intensive monocropping (generally rainfed or irrigated rice) without mineral or organic fertilization. They are often sandy soils coming from sandstone, with acidic pH and aluminic toxicity because the low exchange capacities are very largely saturated with aluminium. These poor soils have low potential productivity and great erosion sensitivity. Conservation Agriculture brings a global answer to these fertility problems, and makes it possible to restore gradually the soil production potential.

– In the mountainous area, traditional practices, based on slash & burn and long fallow periods are no longer compatible with the demographic pressure and the reduction in land availability. Without interim protective measures, erosion becomes important and these steeply soils quickly become unproductive. No tillage, direct seeding on cover crops and permanent cover crops, which play the role of fallow, allow a return to a physical and chemical fertility of these soils. The introduction of fodder crops into farming rotations allows, in addition to improvement of soil nitrogen, a better integration agriculture-breeding.

In view of these issues, several CIRAD projects and research and development teams in partnership with national systems of research in the sub-region have attempted to develop, test and disseminate systems of Conservation Agriculture based on DMC-SCV (direct seeding mulch-based crop systems) which make it possible to solve issues of change in agricultural practices towards an ecological intensification and a sustainable diversification (see table 4.2.1 of the regional network).

These projects are generally implemented with a permanent technical assistance supported by missions of experts. They have produced a significant set of results and data on the farming systems in Southeast Asia. However, various regional problems of research and development could not be addressed at that level. In the absence of a structuring system, the comparative and integrative regional approaches have been poorly implemented in spite of the need for comparable research designs, harmonized environmental and economic assessment methods and comparable impact indicators, etc

The need for a network that structures the CA research in Southeast Asia had already been pointed out, by the national partners, in December 2005 in Vientiane (Laos), during a workshop on the need to develop a sub-regional scientific network. This question was again raised by research and development partners during the International Conference which was held in Phonsavan (Xieng Khuang – Laos) from October 28th to November 2nd, 2008. It was in September 2009 that the project to provide structural support in agroecology (PROSA-LAOS) was able, thanks to funding from CIRAD (Inciting Actions N°6 – 2009), successfully organize a workshop leading to the official creation of the CANSEA network (Conservation Agriculture Network for South-East Asia).

Organization of CANSEA

The Conservation Agriculture Network in South-East Asia (CANSEA) was organised in Vientiane (Laos) on 29-30 September 2009. This network of research for the development is a new structuring priority organization which associates 7 institutional partners from 6 Southeast Asian countries.

The 8 founding members of the network are:

–     In Cambodia: the Ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (MAFF);

–     In China: the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (YAAS);

–     In Indonesia: the Indonesian Agency for Agriculture Research and Development (IAARD);

–     In Laos: the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI);

–     In Thailand: the University of Kasetsart;

–     In Vietnam: the Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI) and the Soils and Fertilizers Research Institute (SFRI);

–     Le Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), which cooperates with all the partners of South- East Asia.

Since 2014, the University of Queensland, Australia has been become a member of the Network.

The network is managed by a Steering Committee chaired in 2010 and 2011 by NAFRI (Laos) which named Mr. Soulivanthong Kingkeo as Chairperson. Regional coordination was entrusted to CIRAD which named Mr. Jean-Claude Legoupil (Principal Technical Assistant in PROSA: project for structural support in agroecology), as Regional Coordinator. This partnership synergy must lead to the preparation of several regional projects in Conservation Agriculture. These projects based on an agroecological approach aim at both rural development and environment conservation. It is about a generic concept integrating agricultural practices for sustainable agricultural production and effective protection of the environment.

Since August 2012, the National Conservation Agriculture Center (NCAC) has been institutionally separated from NAFRI,  becoming  the Conservation  Agriculture  and  Land  Development Unit (CALD)  within a  new department of MAF (Department of Agricultural Land Management and Development (DALaM), and thus the Regional coordination network is presently hosted by the CALD unit and the Presidency is  provided by the DALaM Department of the Ministry (Mr. Anonh Khamhoung, the Director of DALaM). And, since March 2014, Dr. Jean Cloude-Legoupil  has retired and hence Dr Frank Enjalric has replaced him as the  Network’s Regional coordinator.

General objectives of CANSEA

Generally, the objective of the CANSEA network is to optimize the similarities and the complementarities between countries and institutions in the Mekong region, to improve on one hand the efficiency of research carried out by the various projects and on other hand to go over the “pilot” diffusion of CA systems in small-scale households in Southeast Asia. To optimize resources and means, the implementation of sub-regional synergies in research and development is proposed through:

– pooling of results and available expertise by enhancing the “ORCATAD” database created by the PRONAE-NAFRI project with funding from the European commission. This database is currently managed by PROSA and the National Centre in Conservation Agriculture (NCCA) of NAFRI. The objective of CANSEA is to give a true regional dimension to this database.

– Training support to optimize the effectiveness of the projects and actions in agroecology in the sub-region (time saved on the “training” and “communication” components of the projects allowing for more time for finalized research).

– Common capacity to address scientific and operational sub-regional problems (restoration of the fertility of acidic soils and development of productive farming systems while protecting the environment in mountainous areas…).

–  Common scientific coordination aimed at harmonising methods and indicators, by proposing a common research design and comparative approaches to address similar problems.

Within the CANSEA network, an activity is defined as being regional once it corresponds to one of the following definitions:

– Activity involving at least two distinct national partners,

– Activity dealing with a transverse set of themes with transnational dimension,

– Activity allowing the comparison of data between several countries and integration of these data in an analysis at sub-regional level.

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