Sustainable Agriculture Project Sangthong

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Training Topics

Integrated Pest Management: Prior to the implementation of the project, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supported training in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) through the FAO Inter-Country IPM Programme. Two DAFEO staff had successfully completed residential trainings in the principles and practice of IPM and were certified as Farmer Field School Facilitators. At the beginning of the project, funding for the programme had been discontinued in the district. The project undertook to continue and extend this work, by selecting two villages (ban Hoi Dtom and Ban Gua Sumpay) in which to implement Farmer Field Schools.

Soil Conservation: one of the principle drawbacks of swidden cultivation is the impoverishment of soil fertility through burning, and exposure of the bare soil to intense solar heat, as well as erosion from heavy rains. In settled agriculture, many of the principles learnt from years of swidden cultivation are still dominant, including burning of all wastes and plant material, and denuding of soil. In project trainings, emphasis is placed upon mulching and shading of soil through plants. Much settled agriculture takes place during the dry season, when water needs are at their peak. Mulching serves to conserve soil moisture as well as protect valuable nutrients from solar degradation. Topics in soil conservation also included alley cropping for hillside agriculture and other techniques of Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT).

Soil Improvement: Improvement of soils through the addition of green manures and compost was taught, with practical sessions on compost making and application. This is particularly important in the local context as external inputs come at a high costs for farmers with little liquid cash. Composting methods utilized locally available resources, while also provided a viable alternative to the common practice of burning crop wastes.

Fruit Tree Planting and Care: Principles of fruit tree management including pest and disease management, pruning, mulching, and fertilization (by means of compost and manure rather than purchased fertilizers) were taught, followed by practical demonstrations in the Demonstration Gardens where trees were planted, fertilized and mulched.

Fruit Tree Grafting and Propagation: The project conducted a one-day training session in each project village on techniques of fruit tree grafting and propagation. Techniques included bark and shield grafting, air-layering (marcotting) and budding. This training, in particular, relied heavily on practical demonstration and practice by participants.

Fish Pond Construction and Fish Raising: Typically, fish are allowed to grow ‘wild’ in temporary ponds or paddies and then are harvested near the end of the dry season in bulk, or harvested periodically throughout the year. The project conducted trainings on specifications for fish pond construction (including low-labour methods of improving existing ponds for fish raising) and techniques of improving food sources by the addition of decaying plant material and manure to the water. The practicum of these sessions were enhanced by the existence of fish ponds beside most Demonstration Gardens, which have provided valuable demonstrations for fish raising techniques.

Chicken Raising and Vaccination: Chickens, like other animals, are typically raised in a non-formal fashion. Newcastle and other diseases, including suspected cases of Avian Flu often devastate flocks in rural areas. The project conducted trainings on techniques of vaccination and symptoms of fowl disease.

Production and Use of Bio-Extract (BE): farmers were trained in the techniques of produce bio-extract from fruit and vegetables, and instructed in the uses of BE as an additive for compost and for pest management. Farmers were also trained in similar techniques for producing water-based extracts for use in pest management and soil improvement.


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