26 Participate in a Short Course on Utilization of Indigenous Crops to Strengthen Food Security
Twenty six junior faculty members and researchers from Savannakhet University (SKU), Lao PDR participated in a Short Course on Utilization of Indigenous Crops to Strengthen Food Security held on 6-10 June 2016 at SKU.
The course was partially funded by the Food Security Center (FSC) project of the University of Hohenheim, which is part of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) program “Exceed” supported by DAAD and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). SEARCA and KU are strategic partners of the FSC.
Organized by SEARCA in cooperation with the Faculty of Agriculture of SKU, the course was conducted by a group of lecturers from Kasetsart University (KU) led by Dr. Yingyong Paisooksantivatana, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Horticulture of the Faculty of Agriculture, KU. With Dr. Yingyongare Dr. Hathairat Chokthaweepanich and Dr. Piyamas Phongkaew, both from the Faculty of Natural Resources and Agro-Industry, Department of Agriculture and Resources, Chalermphrakiat Sakon Nakhon Province Campus, KU.
The course mainly focused on appreciation and understanding of the importance of diversity of indigenous plants. It covered the fundamentals of tropical crop diversity, the value of plant genetic resources, ethnobotany, plant diversity, basic taxonomy, and the fundamentals of plant collection. In addition, the group of Dr. Yingyong also lectured on fish diversity in the Mekong River, which passes through 6 countries: China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
In his lectures, Dr. Yingyong emphasized that recent events have shown that extreme weather conditions and climate change do much damage to agriculture and serves as a big challenge to food security. He stressed that “Agricultural biodiversity is a major key in the survival of mankind in the future” and that it is very important to diversify crops using under-exploited, unexplored, or old cultivars.
As part of the week-long short course, participants had a chance to visit a forest area near SKU’s new campus to study diversity of organisms, to classify them based on ecological roles, and to study the plant community.
SKU is one of three universities who have partnered with SEARCA under SEARCA’s Institutional Development Assistance (IDA) Program, and is one of Lao PDR’s newest universities, having been established in October 2009.The IDA intends to empower and equip strategically located universities with the necessary resources to cater to the demands for human resources required to boost economic development in the region, like SKU in Savannakhet, Khammouane, and Bolikhamxay provinces of Lao PDR.