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Monday, June 27, 2011

Talk about Sustainable Agriculture

The participants from 10 ASEAN Country
I was asked by many participants from the 6th ASEAN-JICA International Tropical Fruit Industry Training Course recently about Sustainable Agriculture. I explain to them that the Sustainable Agriculture integrates three main goals that was Environmental Health, Economic Profitability and Social and Economic Equity. In  my explanation further I asks them to continue reading my blog that is or  There are a variety of philosophies, policies and practices have contributed to these goals of sustainable agriculture. People in many different capacities and from farmers to consumers, have shared this vision and contributed to it. Despite the diversity of people and perspectives, the following themes commonly weave through definitions of sustainable agriculture. This article I share my little opinion on sustainable agriculture related to Malaysia.

As a start I can say that the word 'Sustainability' rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance. Stewardship of human resources includes consideration of social responsibilities such as working and living conditions of laborers, the needs of rural communities, and consumer health and safety both in the present and the future. Stewardship of land and natural resources involves maintaining or enhancing this vital resource base for the long term. In Malaysia the opening of new area to grow oil palm and rubber are sustainable if the basic practice followed such as the terracing techniques, planting of cover crops and proper drainage and irrigation system. The zero-burning concept by falling the old tree and processed as composting activity was the latest technology of sustainable agriculture in oil palm industry. 

We have to know a systems perspective is essential to understanding sustainability. The system is envisioned in its broadest sense from the individual farm to the local ecosystem and to communities affected by this farming system both locally and globally. An emphasis on the system allows a larger and more thorough view of the consequences of farming practices on both human communities and the environment. A systems approach gives us the tools to explore the interconnections between farming and other aspects of our environment. For example many training has to be conducted for vegetable growers of how to apply Integrated Pest Management Concepts (IPM) with the reduction of the chemical usage to control pests and diseases in their Good Agriculture Practice activity. Farmers in Cameroon Highland consumed more organic matters in their farming activity compare to the huge application of chemical fertilizer.A systems approach also implies interdisciplinary efforts in research and education. This requires not only the input of researchers from various disciplines, but also farmers, farm-workers  consumers, policymakers and others.

Making the transition to sustainable agriculture is a long process and not an easy jobs. For the farmers the transition to sustainable agriculture normally requires a series of small and realistic steps. Extension Agriculture Officers, Political Leaders, Growers Association and  NGO must combined to clarify to the community the importance of Sustainable Agriculture. Family economics and personal goals influence how fast or how far participants can go in the transition. It is important to realize that each small decision can make a difference and contribute to advancing the entire system further on the "sustainable agriculture continuum." The key to moving forward is the will to take the next step. The various level of community has to understand the whole concept about sustainable agriculture and what is their role within the system.

It is important to point out that reaching toward the goal of sustainable agriculture is the responsibility of all participants in the system. They include active farmers, laborers, policymakers, researchers, retailers, and consumers. That mean the whole Crop-Chain system must involved in the system. Each group has its own part to play and its own unique contribution to make to strengthen the sustainable agriculture community. Farmers usually the most front-liners to be blame in this system since they are the ultimate group of total involvement in the farming activity if any problem arises about this issue. The policy maker must understand the whole concept about sustainable agriculture to prepare a conducive regulation related to it. In Malaysia this issue considered as medium and 'OK' stage regarding the issue of sustainable agriculture from the views of policy maker, the related departments, NGO's, Farmers and public. Campaign and explanation continuously conducted for the awareness of sustainable agriculture at various level in Malaysia.  

I would like to remind that this article or document considers specific strategies for realizing these broad themes or goals. The strategies are grouped according to three separate though related areas of concern: Farming and Natural Resources, Plant and Animal Production Practices, and the Economic, Social and Political Context. They represent a range of potential ideas for individuals committed to interpreting the vision of sustainable agriculture within their own circumstances. The more awareness among community in a country is the better position for that nation in the future of sustainable agriculture for the next generation.

M Anem
Jalan Istana
Air Keroh, Melaka,
(On Holiday this monday) 

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