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Integrated Farming (IF) practices emphasize the use of naturally, sustainably produced soil nutrients and cultivation of diversified crops, livestock husbandry, and allied enterprises in a manner that enhances overall farm productivity in balance with local, regional, and global environmental resources. IF makes judicious use of agricultural inputs and farm resources, generates farm employment, optimizes technology use, produces diverse agrifood products, increases farm profitability, and generates farm income year round. It also improves agricultural resilience and adaptability to changing climate conditions.
To share successful models of IF and to develop action plans for participants to promote the adoption and scaling up of successful models and best practices of IF in their countries, the APO in partnership with the NPO of Bangladesh under the Ministry of Industries organized a workshop on Successful Models of Integrated Farming in Dhaka, 7–11 May. Twenty-five participants from 13 countries, one observer, six resource persons from Australia, India, and the Philippines, and three local experts from Bangladesh attended.
Addressing the inaugural session of the workshop, Chief Guest Additional Secretary Sushen Chandra Das of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Industries highlighted the importance of IF in the context of increasing agricultural productivity. He hoped that participants would learn about representative best practices in the workshop and scale up the most relevant ones in their own countries. He thanked the APO for selecting Bangladesh to host this important workshop. Additional Secretary Md. Dabirul Islam, also of the Ministry of Industries, discussed the importance and potential of IF from the perspective of current climate change and how it could address food security issues.
The workshop included a site visit to Shikha Shastha Unnayan Karzakram (SHISUK), or the Education, Health, and Development Program, an independent, nonprofit NGO started in 1994 with the strategic direction of interfacing community management with commercial aquaculture through the active participation of local people, who have shares in ownership. Known as the “new-generation development approach,” SHISUK addresses sustainability through a community approach involving both the disadvantaged and influential classes in the process of socioeconomic development. It provides opportunities for more interaction and profit sharing by implementing different farming approaches.
For Cambodian participant Bun Sieng the workshop was a good learning and sharing platform and she now plans to utilize the best practices of IF presented during the workshop, particularly the combined rice and duck farming model, in terms of improving value chains and the input support market. The integrated duck and mango model were the other two projects that she found interesting and hopes to initiate it in her community.
Participant Timoci Vakaboro from Fiji was particularly glad to have had the opportunity to interview a farmer personally. He felt certain that the firsthand information gathered would benefit his work as a farm management officer.
Expert from the Philippines Jose Apollo Pacamalan, Executive Director and CEO of Rice-Duck Movement Inc., found the workshop to be timely and relevant for promoting the IF system in different countries as a strategy for contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and hunger by 2030. He stressed that the selection and dissemination of IF should be based on location-specific considerations and that country-specific approaches were required.
Another APO expert, Dr. Digby Race, Associate Professor, Tropical Forests & People Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, found the APO workshop unique, as it gave participants sufficient opportunities to interact with each other, share their country case studies, and discuss specific details with resource persons.